Is Michele Bachmann's campaign cratering?

A new poll shows Michele Bachmann falling back in the Republican field – and that her problems extend beyond front-runner Rick Perry siphoning off her supporters.

Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS
Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) of Minnesota speaks at the California Republican Party fall convention in Los Angeles September 16.

Is Michele Bachmann’s support among GOP voters cratering? That’s what a new Gallup/USA Today poll implies. The survey, taken last week, shows her as the first choice of only 5 percent of respondents. That’s down from 10 percent in August.

USA Today’s estimable political correspondent Susan Page, in a tweet, described the Minnesota lawmaker’s poll trend line thusly: “Bachmann implodes.”

Congresswoman Bachmann does not even place third in the Gallup survey. Ron Paul does, with 13 percent of the GOP vote. Bachmann’s tied for fourth, with businessman Herman Cain and ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Wow – that’s a pretty steep fall. Has the entrance of Rick Perry into the race sapped Bachmann’s voter strength? That’s an easy conclusion to jump to, as Texas Governor Perry might appeal to the conservative, tea party-oriented faction of the GOP, as Bachmann does.

Interestingly, that doesn’t seem to really be the case. Sure, Perry’s share of the vote increased a little in Gallup’s September poll, to 31 percent, from 29 percent in August. Some of that might be due to defections from Bachmann. But it can’t account for where the majority of her voters have gone.

Mitt Romney was a big gainer, though, going to 24 percent in September from 17 percent in August.

“Romney’s support may be coming from Michele Bachmann,” conservative activist Neil Stevens writes on the RedState blog.

How could that be? Many tea party voters are suspicious that former Massachusetts Governor Romney is a moderate wearing a conservative cloak.

Mr. Stevens points out, however, that if you run similar polls with tea party star Sarah Palin, and then without her, you can see that Ms. Palin’s voters opt for a range of other candidates if they can’t vote for their ex-Alaska governor favorite.

“Add in the fact that Bachmann has made harsh attacks specifically on Perry ... and Bachmann’s supporters going anyone-but-Perry I find to be plausible,” writes Stevens.

The new poll isn’t the only bad news Bachmann’s received lately. Her former campaign manager, Ed Rollins, said on MSNBC yesterday that she might get a second look from voters if she won the Iowa caucuses, but as things stand she doesn’t have “the ability or the resources” to campaign beyond Iowa.

Bachmann has disputed this analysis, saying her campaign is “alive and well.”

“We’re thrilled with how we’re doing,” Bachmann told CNN.

It is true, the Gallup survey is but one poll, and there are months to go before actual voting starts. And whatever Bachmann’s current resources, she can probably obtain more. She is a “prolific fundraiser,” according to the campaign watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics. She raised $13.5 million during the 2010 election cycle – more than any other member of the House.

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