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Bachmann Winning Over NH Voters

Republican presidential candidate's strong performance in June 13 debate has propelled her in the polls.

In recent months, it seemed like no Republican candidate would be able to challenge Mitt Romney in the New Hampshire Primary.

The former Massachusetts governor -- who summers in the Granite State -- topped 40 percent in two recent polls, while his closest challengers failed to even break into double digits.

But that started to change a bit following the June 13 debate at Saint Anselm College.

Tea party favorite Michele Bachmann's strong performance vaulted her into a second place tie with Ron Paul in a Magellan poll of New Hampshire Republicans conducted in the week after the debate. And she's continued to generate a lot of buzz in New Hampshire, as evidenced by her highly attended appearance at a Raymond house party on Tuesday morning.

A University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll due out this week is likely to also show that Bachmann has catapulted into second place behind Romney, according to Andy Smith, the center's director.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the polls start to indicate that," said Dante Scala, a UNH political science professor. "She generated significant positive buzz out of the debate. The consensus was that she and Romney were the big winners. It was especially important for her because there are a lot of candidates in the race vying to be the candidate for the very conservative voters.

"On the moderate side, you had Romney, and now you have Huntsman," Scala added. "I think Bachmann helped herself a good bit. Now the question will be going forward, does she intend to build upon that here."

Already, this week, Bachmann appears poised to spend a lot more time in Iowa and South Carolina than in New Hampshire. Whether that will change in the months to come remains to be seen.

"I know she's staffing up in the state and so forth," Scala said. "The big question for her will be how will she allocate her time -- here or Iowa? She's got the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa in mind. That necessarily means she's gonna spend a lot of time over the summer there instead of here, because there's really no equivalent here. The big question going into the fall is how will she allocate her time."

In 2008, Scala said, Mike Huckabee found himself in a similar situation. He saw a real advantage in Iowa, which he pursued successfully. But he wasn't able to capitalize on it in New Hampshire, Scala said, because he hadn't built the groundwork here.

"Will she try to divide her time here and in New Hampshire, or will she be an Iowa-only candidate?" Scala said. The bottom line, he said, is that Bachmann doesn't have to win in New Hampshire to be a contender for the GOP nomination. But if she can place a strong second, that would go a long way.

"As far as New Hampshire goes, will she be viewed as that anti-Romney candidate here, or will she be viewed as the candidate of Evangelicals, in which case, New Hampshire voters might have something of an allergic reaction to her and her candidacy," Scala said. "We haven't seen a Republican do well in Iowa and in New Hampshire for quite a long time. Whether she'll be able to break that, we'll have to see."

State Rep. Bob Elliott, R-Salem, attended Tuesday's event in Raymond, and came away as a Bachmann believer.

"I don't know where this woman gets her magnetism from," he said. "She's Sarah Palin, plus she's got a deeper intellect. She goes right to the point and gets it done."

Elliott said he's still undecided on who he'll support in the primary, but Bachmann made an impression.

"Right now I'm narrowing it down to Mitt Romney and Michele," he said.

Raymond Selectman Peter Buckingham also liked what he heard from Bachmann on Tuesday.

"I was very impressed," he said.

An independent, Buckingham said Bachmann wasn't on his short list of candidates before he heard her speak, but "she is now."

But, he was quick to point out, "I haven't heard the others yet."

TomRC July 06, 2011 at 03:03 PM
She has a problem speaking intelligently when she is speaking off of her standard topics and bullet points. She is not lacking in intelligence, but tends to drift away from phrasing and ideas that make her marginally acceptable to more mainstream Republicans. When you read more about her views and how she speaks to her "base" you start to realize that she is not representative of anything other than the far right. For people that want that, she is a good fit. For people that desire a moderate voice that can speak to a majority of Americans, she isn't the one for them.
Stephen Fontaine July 06, 2011 at 03:20 PM
Once again the left speaks in high generalities. "She speaks to her base." CAN 'T you give SPECIFIC examples? There is no intellectual depth to any of these anti-Bachman comments. "TENDS TO DRIFT AWAY." Away from what? You are parroting the talking points of the DNC, but you don't have a clue when you say she has a problem when she is speaking outside of her standard topics. I haven't heard you critics ever say what you mean by that. She is for smaller and more limited government, lower taxes, less regulation, and is committed to following the Constitution. She understands, unlike the current bunch in there, that you can't spend much more than you get in perpetuity. There, I gave you something to work with. Go start looking it up and come up with a reasonably thought out rebuttal. Talking points make you sound stupid.
TomRC July 07, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Sorry Stephen, you want an indepth analysis of why the majority of Americans find the far right to be unpalitable then you should be looking elsewhere than in the comments section. That's why it's called "comments" and not "indepth analysis". My comment is that during the last election cycle Michelle Bachmans came across as an extremist that would be more than happy to preside over a new edition of the McCarthy hearing to uncover members of Government with "un-American" leanings.
Brandon Stauber July 07, 2011 at 11:48 PM
I'm not sure what polling you're looking at but as it stands now (as it has for years), the country in general and NH specifically leans center-right. It is the majority of Americans that feel Obama's policies are unpalatable. That said, you're clearly on the Dem side of the spectrum and thus you'll likely not support ANY of the GOP candidates, which of course is your prerogative. However, having personally met and interacted with Mrs Bachmann (as well as four of the other candidates) I can say that your impressions and comments are without merit and seem to be derived from the talking points of the Democratic party that attempt to paint any T.E.A. party member as an 'extremist' (a la Sen Charles Shumer D-NY admitted in a conference call to the media). I am confident that the Republican voters of the state will carefully select the candidate that best represents the views of the voters. (on another note, why is it that the some comments only have first names? its easy to hide and criticize anonymously)
TomRC July 08, 2011 at 06:06 AM
I have been following Bachmann since the beginning of the 2008 presidential elections. And the statement at the end of my last comment is based on not only the highly publicized interview with Chris Matthews, but several other statements she has continued to make since then. I know many people value the chance we have in NH to look presidential candidates in the eye and take their measure. We just can't forget that they also have a history and we need to see what positions and actions they have taken in the past, and compare them to what they are presenting now that they are being groomed and coached by professionals. I am sure even David Duke is going mainstream now that he wants to run for president.

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