Michele Bachmann's formal entrance in the 2012 race for the White House has Republicans in the early caucus and primary states pretty darn excited. Polls in three states show her presidential announcement gave her a major boost. But can she sustain it?
The Minnesota representative's poll numbers rose into double digits in New Hampshire, according to a survey unveiled Wednesday, putting her in second place (11 percent) behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (36 percent). Before her official announcement Monday, Bachmann was polling at just three percent in the Granite State. Poll numbers for the other GOP candidates, however, remain consistently below ten percent.
The New Hampshire poll, released by Suffolk University and local affiliate WHDH-TV, matches up with other recent state-wide surveys. The three-term congresswoman placed second in polls in both Iowa and Florida over the past week. In Iowa, she trailed Romney by just one percent.
The key to her early success, a closer reading of some of the polls suggest, is her knack for grabbing a hefty percentage of voters who consider themselves "very conservative." In the Florida poll, Bachmann led the other candidates among that group, with support from more than one in five likely GOP voters.
But while Bachmann may have captured the imagination of the nation's most conservative voters, it remains to be seen whether her appeal will endure over a 17-month campaign.
She certainly has her doubters.
A disgruntled ex-Bachmann staffer penned an article Tuesday in the Des Moines Register arguing that his former boss is "so not ready" to be the nation's chief executive.
"The Bachmann campaign and congressional offices I inherited were wildly out of control," Bachmann's former Chief of Staff Ron Carey wrote. "Stacks upon stacks of unopened contributions filled the campaign office while thousands of communications from citizens waited for an answer. If she is unable, or unwilling, to handle the basic duties of a campaign or congressional office, how could she possibly manage the magnitude of the presidency?"
Her lean legislative record during her tenure in the House could also haunt her during the campaign. As Politico's John Bresnehan and Jake Sherman reported Wednesday, Bachmann hasn't accomplished much of substance since she took her first oath of office in 2007.
"Bachmann has never had a bill or resolution she's sponsored signed into law, and she's never wielded a committee gavel, either at the full or subcommittee level," Bresnehan and Sherman reported. "Bachmann's amendments and bills have rarely been considered by any committee, even with the House under GOP control."
There's no doubt that Bachmann introduces an impressive volume of bills--she was the first in her caucus to call for repealing the health care law passed last year--but when it comes to the dirty business of actually passing legislation, Bachmann hasn't shown that she has what it takes to see things through.
Her long-term success will depend on what Republicans are looking for in their candidate: A principled conservative who rejects results over purity, or someone who has a record of accomplishments. Given the infusion of the conservative Tea Party in to GOP politics, it wouldn't be surprising if they opt for the former choice.