Wednesday, January 4, 2012

...And then there were six...Bachman suspends campaign...

Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has suspended her campaign at a mid day announcement.

Bachmann, coming off a disappointing 6th place performance in last night's Iowa caucus, leaves the campaign after slow but steady decline in the Iowa pools. She won the Iowa straw poll back in August, but in the months since then had seen her popularity and resonance with the Iowa voter decline. With support cratering and financial issues limiting how she could realistically fight on, a decision has apparently been made to step away now. The Associated Press has confirmed Bachmann has canceled all of her appearances in South Carolina, the next State she had hoped to contend in.

Bachmann's ultra conservative message and continued attacking of President Obama, while red meat for the far Right, failed to connect with that segment of Iowa caucus participants, who instead of supporting Bachmann or similarly defined Texas Governor Rick Perry, elected to throw their support behind former Pennsylvania Congressman Rick Santorum.

Perry announced last night that he too was canceling all of his South Carolina appointments and returning home to Texas to "assess" what his path forward should be.

So, that effectively reduces the field from seven down to five, with Jon Huntsman among this group. He won't be for long. He chose to ignore Iowa totally, perhaps out of financial limitations and concentrate on his home state of New Hampshire, where he sits in a distant fourth in most polls. Romney sits with a +40% rating compared to Huntsman's 4th place score of just under 11%.

Which leaves a field of four "serious" candidates remaining. Romney is in a terrific position, with a huge warchest, the best national organisation of anyone still competing, and workable poll numbers everywhere. Santorum needs to develop a national campaign structure almost overnight, which is hard to do. Driving around Iowa in a pickup with a few assistants may have been effective in the midwest, but its not going to work on a larger scale. Ron Paul had to be disappointed with his third place showing last night and while there's signs the GOP mainstream will try to play a little nicer with the Congressman, this isn't going to end well for him. Supporters of Bachmann/Perry will slide to Santorum, not Paul. Finally, Newt Gingrich is also very limited on funds and given how fast his star fell once the Romney-friendly pacs started their media onslaught, its probably over for the former Speaker. He won't leave without a fight, so its must see TV this weekend. Two debates are scheduled, Saturday at 9:00pm on ABC then followed quickly the next morning at 9:00am on NBC's Meet The Press. I suspect Gingrich will extract his pound of flesh over the weekend, come in 3rd place in the NH primary on January 10th, possibly carry on to South Carolina, fall to Romney once more, then drop out.

With Florida's primary coming up on the 31st, I suspect we'll be down to at least three candidates, possibly two if Santorum doesn't get his national organisation and fundraising improved ten-fold. Paul has a good bank account going forward, and doesn't seem inclined to go gentle into that good night.

Barring some unforseen scandal, Romney has the nomination wrapped up by St. Patricks Day.

The pre-season will be over, then comes the main event...


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