Search Party Politics
From what I have been reading and hearing over the past few days, it sounds like Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann went missing from New Hampshire while I was away on vacation last week. Former state Republican Party chair Fergus Cullen, among others, has taken Bachmann to task for her dearth of retail politicking in the Granite State. My question to the Bachmann search party is why is this surprising?
As I have argued here many times before, Bachmann’s natural constituency (and the reason for her rise to national prominence) is located in the social and religious conservative core of the Tea Party, which makes her an uneasy fit for the demographics of New Hampshire’s Republican primary voting electorate. It is the same reason why former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s visits to the state have been so few and far between since 2008 (this weekend’s Tea Party Express appearance notwithstanding).
Bachmann’s best hope is to replicate former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s path in 2008, only with better results. A win in the Iowa Caucus could conceivably set her up to compete in South Carolina, but, as was true for Huckabee, I don’t think it will make a huge difference for her here, which is why it is a reasonable strategic decision by her campaign to direct the candidate and resources elsewhere. I am tempted to make the same argument about Texas Governor Rick Perry, but some politicos in New Hampshire have passionately argued to me that Perry’s situation (and potential as a bridge candidate) is very different. So, I am withholding judgment until I can get a better read on how he plays here.

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