Following Michele Bachmann’s triumph in the Ames Straw Poll, she was immediately crowned the frontrunner in the Iowa Caucus. While winning the Ames Straw Poll does not guarantee a victory at the Iowa Caucus (just ask Mitt Romney), it does show the strength of a candidate’s campaign operation and popular support. But most importantly, victory at Ames does not make a candidate a mainstream political figure. As Tim Murphy writes today in Mother Jones and consistently chronicled on RWW, Bachmann throughout her entire political career has seen herself and acted as an ultraconservative, Religious Right fanatic, and her victory at Ames makes her no more mainstream or less radical.
For example, Pat Robertson won the 1987 Ames Straw Poll, topping both George Bush and Bob Dole, who went on to win the Iowa Caucus. But defeating the Vice President and the Senate Republican Leader did not make Robertson a mainstream politician, in the same way Bachmann is still a right-wing extremist even after her straw poll victory. Their victories in Ames show the endurance and growth of the Religious Right base of the Republican Party.
Need a reminder of how out of the mainstream Robertson is? Just today on The 700 Club, for instance, Robertson explained how he performed an exorcism on a girl and “cast this demon out of her” before she tried to kill her mother:
So if Pat Robertson can win in Ames, is it any surprise that Michele Bachmann could too?