On Tuesday night, in Hanover, New Hampshire, students at Dartmouth College enjoyed a night of heated exchanges and sharp jabs at the GOP presidential debate. Much has changed in the landscape of the nomination race over the past few weeks, and will continue to change as the Iowa caucus gets closer.
Despite the unpredictable nature of the race, Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) poor performance in the debate makes one thing certain: She has shrunk to a mere fly on the back of the Republican elephant.
As a result of a severe drop in fundraising and momentum, as well as an inability to expand her base, Bachmann has dropped from a top tier candidate to a faint background voice. Bachmann must drop out of the race for the 2012 GOP nomination sooner rather than later, as the congresswoman will not be able to last until the Iowa Caucus. Bachmann’s exit, however, will not be as insignificant as Pawlenty’s was. Due to her political clout in Iowa and within the Tea Party, Bachmann’s endorsement has the ability to greatly influence the race for the nomination and ultimately help to pick the Republican nominee for president.
With the fundraising disclosure deadline rapidly approaching, members of the Bachmann camp are growing weary of her insufficient fundraising in the last quarter. Reports say that she is on pace to generate less than her third-quarter figures. Ominously, the possibility looms that power will be cut at her campaign HQ due to the outstanding payment of bills. Keeping in mind that frontrunners Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry all have sufficient polling numbers to satisfy their financial backers, it is safe to say that the Bachmann campaign is a sinking ship.
When Bachmann does bow out of the race however, who will she endorse, if anyone? Obviously Perry would be a natural option given his prominence in the Tea Party movement. However, it is likely that Perry will not last in the race. Similar to Bachmann, Perry came in with enormous momentum, which has all but slipped away at the cost of Cain’s rise. Both Perry and Bachmann’s fall from top tier candidates shows that the Tea Party cannot and will not have the same influence during a presidential election cycle as it did during the 2010 midterms. However, look to see Bachmann support Cain’s run down the stretch. Although there are polarized differences between the two, both are principally conservative, and Cain has begun to woo over some Tea Party supporters.
A Bachmann endorsement will indeed give Cain more spring in his step and make possible a tough fought primary battle between Cain and Romney. With a recent NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll indicating that Cain is now the leader of the GOP pack, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Cain has emerged as the alternative to Romney. A Bachmann-Cain alliance would surely boost the businessman’s support and allow him to increase his lead over Romney heading into the beginning of the primary season.
The October 15 deadline is D-Day for the Bachmann camp. Her supporters will likely become nervous and look to the next viable candidate to support. Unless something spectacular occurs, this will be the end of Bachmann’s run for the presidency. Despite winning the Ames straw poll, her support has waned and has hit rock bottom, signaling the time to bow out.
Photo Credit: IowaPolitics.com