No, she’s not about to morph into an ex-Speaker of the House. The possible correlation here is about campaign staff, and campaign staff quitting, and their departures calling into question a presidential candidate’s viability.
As a GOP hopeful, Mr. Gingrich suffered a blow in June when his top aides quit en masse, if you remember. They made clear they did not agree with how Newt wanted to run his campaign, to the point that they even questioned how hard he was trying.
Gingrich is still in the race, but he’s just bumping along. It’s hard to get above single digits in the polls – or to raise serious money – once your former campaign manager complains about your vacation schedule.
Now it’s Ms. Bachmann’s turn to ride that particular merry-go-round. The Minnesota congresswoman’s campaign manager, Ed Rollins, and deputy campaign manager, David Polyansky, moved on to other duties over the weekend. Mr. Rollins says he’s withdrawing from day-to-day campaigning but will serve in a senior advisory role. Mr. Polyansky will be serving somebody else in some other capacity, because he’s out entirely.
This doesn’t seem like a Gingrich-level shakeup, however. True, it comes shortly after Rollins acknowledged to the Washington Post that his candidate was no longer in the top tier. But both newly former staffers said they wished nothing but the best for Bachmann.
Rollins has plausible reasons for leaving – he has suffered health problems in the past and he says he’s just not up for the grind anymore.
That said, the real comparison Bachmann might worry about now is not with Newt Gingrich, who is still in the race, but with Tim Pawlenty, who isn’t. Her poll numbers are deflating to the point that her candidacy seems endangered.
In a recent Fox News survey, Bachmann was the choice of a whopping 4 percent of Republican voters. That tied her for fifth place with two candidates who aren’t even running: Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. She’s only one percentage point ahead of, you guessed it, Newt Gingrich.
Worse for her, 18 percent of respondents in the poll said her positions are so extreme they would never vote for her. She led that particular category.
The entry of Sen. Rick Perry (R) of Texas into the race may have sapped energy out of the Bachmann campaign. Tellingly, the first anti-Perry attack ad in the race came from a Super-PAC linked to Bachmann, pointed out conservative blogger Erick Erickson over the weekend.
“I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people on the ground in Iowa and South Carolina in the past week and there is a sense among activists on the ground that Bachmann is starting to fade. It is not that they do not like her. In fact, they love her. But there is a creeping sense that she cannot beat Obama and they want someone who can beat Obama,” wrote Erickson.
A new Rasmussen Reports survey out Monday confirms that Bachmann's Iowa position is slipping. An Iowa native, she has long staked her candidacy on doing well there.
But the Rasmussen poll shows that Governor Perry has moved into first place, as the choice of 29 percent of Iowa Republican voters. Bachmann, the choice of 18 percent, is essentially tied for second with Mitt Romney, who is making little effort in the state.