Bachmann Has Favorable Numbers In Iowa Poll; Don't Count Out Pawlenty

It is often silly to build narratives based on a poll of 400 Iowans, 280 of whom said they were willing to change their mind on their first choice candidate, that did not include potential thoroughbred candidates Rick Perry and Sarah Palin.

But since perception is often nine-tenths reality and this poll is the basis for story after story that contributes to “the narrative” or “the conversation:”

Romney and Bachmann led the field, as the numbers below show.

Mitt Romney: 23 percent
Michele Bachmann: 22 percent.
Herman Cain: 10 percent.
Newt Gingrich: 7 percent
Ron Paul: 7 percent
Tim Pawlenty: 6 percent
Rick Santorum: 4 percent
Jon Huntsman: 2 percent

If the numbers are examined closely, Pawlenty’s near 60 percent favorable rating shows that Iowans like Pawlenty but don’t like him intensely enough yet. With that said, even though Herman Cain‘s, Ron Paul’s, and Newt Gingrich’s poll numbers are impressive, it is hard to see one of those three breaking out of the pack if each one of them are actively competing in the straw poll, which is to be determined given Gingrich’s apparent financial and organizational troubles. It is not that far of a stretch, though, especially with Pawlenty’s savvy operatives, to imagine a scenario in which Pawlenty runs as the traditional “Mr. Republican” candidate and gets the voters who said they would tentatively vote for Romney, especially since Romney will not participate in the Ames Straw Poll. Make no mistake, because of the expectations and perceptions game, Pawlenty has to finish in the top three in the Ames Straw Poll. But a surprisingly strong second place finish — enough to buy his campaign life and momentum — doesn’t seem that unreasonable. It will be up to Pawlenty and his campaign to find the message in the next month to convince voters that like him to commit to his campaign and ideas. It does seem like a stretch to see the Romney vote going to a candidate (Romney) who will not play in the Straw poll or going to Messrs. Cain, Paul, or Gingrich, so Pawlenty, if he can seal the deal, seems to be the reasonable potential beneficiary.

If that is the case, Pawlenty’s team will benefit from the conventional wisdom that is currently writing off his chances.

Team Romney should also be happy with this temporary snapshot. It again reaffirms that he may well be best positioned to be the last candidate standing or that his recent attacks on President Obama have been resonating. To put it simply, Romney seems like he is playing not to lose because it is his nomination to lose until someone attacks him or seeks to take it away from him. Right now, there doesn’t seem to be a declared candidate capable of doing that on a national scale.

Now, when one delves deeper into the polls, it is easy to see why Bachmann resonates and why she is strongly positioned to run well in Iowa. Of the ten issues below, the percentage of respondents who said a candidate who supported that particular issue would disqualify that c

Civil Unions: 58 percent
Raising Taxes:  51 percent
Raising the Debt: 49 percent
Individual Mandate : 44 percent
Cuts in Defense Spending: 40 percent
Messy Family Relationships:  36 percent
Climate Change:  33 percent
Privatizing Medicare: 29 percent
Ethanol: 14 percent
Returning to Gold Standard: 13 percent

As a member of the House of Representatives, Bachmann can continue to gain traction and momentum by holding the line against raising taxes or the debt ceiling. Further, these numbers show that Bachmann is not liked just because of her personality or persona, she’s been right on the issues that likely Caucus goers seem to care about.