Collection of reactions to the Ames Iowa straw poll

These are some of the reactions to the Ames Iowa straw poll, where Michele Bachmann won with 29 percent of the vote, and Ron Paul was second, with 28 percent.

Steve Kornacki in Salon

AP Photo by Charles Dharapak

This was a very big win for Bachmann. She crushed her biggest mainstream competitor and she avoided the indignity of finishing behind Paul. In the run-up to the straw poll, there was talk that she might be a victim of her own early success — that by making so much noise this spring and summer and moving up so quickly in polling she had set the bar too high for herself. Finishing behind Pawlenty (and Paul, for that matter) would have encouraged this view, raising questions about whether Bachmann really had the staying power and organization to win the Iowa caucuses this winter. But now she’ll leave Ames with the political world taking her more seriously, not less.

Andrew Sullivan, Daily Beast

She [Bachmann] is to the right what … well it’s hard to come up with a viable politician among the Democrats who can even begin to match her ideological extremism. Maybe if someone actually wanted fully socialized medicine on the British model, top tax rates at 98 percent, and affirmative action for gays in Hollywood.

David Frumm , FrumForum

Bachmann’s win in the Ames straw poll fails to alter the basic shape of the problem. But Texas Governor Rick Perry’s formal declaration as a candidate for the Republican nomination does change the game. Here at last is the non-Romney who can appeal to social conservatives but also raise the dollars to sustain a credible campaign for president. Straw, shmaw. Presidential campaigns are built of cash.

Perry’s entry is nicely timed to squelch Michele Bachmann’s big news bump. It shoulders aside Sarah Palin’s “remember me?” attempts to make news. It buries the last of Tim Pawlenty’s hopes. It suctions away Newt Gingrich’s last hopes for money.

Michael Shear, NYT

The disappointing finish for the Pawlenty campaign is explained, in part, by voters like Dave Freligh, a retired private investigator from Winterset, who carried a green “Pawlenty ’12” T-shirt under his arm. He accepted a ticket from the Pawlenty campaign, but decided to support Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, because he wanted him to keep his candidacy alive so the race would not be dominated by politicians.

Jon Ward , in the Huffington Post

Despite not having his name on the ballot, Perry got a surprisingly high number as well: 718 votes. That beat Mitt Romney’s total of 567 votes, despite the fact that the former Massachusetts governor’s name was on the ballot while Perry was a write-in.

“Romney better strap it on and get on the field,” Henry Barbour, an influential Republican consultant and national committee member from Mississippi, told The Huffington Post.

Charles Johnson in Littlegreenfootballs.com

Headline: Craziest Fundamentalist Republican Wins Iowa Straw Poll, Michele Bachmann is partying tonight, in her own way.

The big winners of the Iowa straw poll: religious fanatic Michele Bachmann, followed closely in second place by religious fanatic “libertarian” Ron Paul. I’m shocked that Ron Paul’s followers didn’t succeed in stacking this poll; they must be slipping.

Sarah Posner, in the Nation.

For Iowa voters, it appears that Bachmann’s Christian rhetoric was the primary motivator. In her speech inside the coliseum this afternoon, she said, “God has mightily put his hand, a blessing upon this nation. We can never think we did this ourselves. It was an Almighty God that gave it to us.”

Tim Murphy, Mother Jones.

The dreadlocked Bachmann supporter in the “Jesus is my Rock” t-shirt might beg to difer, but in Iowa, Bachmann demonstrated that, at least in this truncated version of the GOP field, she is a rock star. Bachmann commanded a crowd twice as large as anyone else’s when she showed up at the Iowa State Fair to speak from the Des Moines Register “soapbox,” and she was the only one who had a state police escort. At her speech in Ames, she whipped the crowd into a frenzy (Only Paul, who was an anti-government crusader before it was cool, could come anywhere close). This, from Sandra Beak of Illinois, was a typical reaction from the congresswoman’s supporters: “I saw Michele Bachmann last night—Oh my gosh! That woman is energetic! She never stops! It’s amazing!”

Ben Smith in Politico

Her sudden, Iowa-fueled rocket ride from backbench junior congresswoman to top contender shows that once more that the key early presidential state is poised to fall for a candidate who might have seemed completely implausible only months before. Bachmann seems to understand that—and sought after her win here Saturday to strike the elusive perfect balance between organization and emotion, and to match total immersion in an Iowa campaign with gestures that indicate a national candidacy. . .

To Bachmann’s supporters, her unambiguous stands on the debt and her sheer charisma were more than enough.

AP Photo. Rodney Skinner, after voting.

“The energy is amazing. It’s insane,” marveled Ruth Cousins, a nurse from Shell Rock and party regular who had volunteered for George W. Bush and Fred Thompson, but said she’d never seen anything like the crowd packing Bachmann’s tent at the Straw Poll.

Cousins cited Bachmann’s “personal appeal” as the crucial factor.

“She just lights it up,” she said.

Michael O’Brien, in the Hill.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), said that the results of the unofficial poll of Iowa Republicans’ preference in a presidential candidate showed that the Tea Party had effectively seized control of the GOP.

“All of the Republican candidates have made clear their allegiance to the Tea Party, supporting extreme policies that would hurt the middle class, seniors, and students,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “The only winner tonight was the Tea Party.”

Marin Cogan, Politico

In a sign of just how fluid the nominating process has become, Bachmann, until recently considered a long-shot candidate, sent her well-wishes to Pawlenty, once considered the safe Republican alternative to run against President Barack Obama. Pawlenty’s lackluster performance in the straw poll Saturday and difficulty with national fundraising put an end to his campaign for president, clearing the way for the ascendant former state senator who once needled him in the legislature.

Frank Bruni, New York Times

Bachmann’s debate performance was troubling. In her opening remarks, she caromed from senseless to ear-splitting, first saying that her vote against raising the debt ceiling had proved correct and then veritably yelping that Obama would be a one-term president.

But that wasn’t the scary part. The scary part was how little distance there was, really, between her and the others on the stage. For all of the agitated sniping between Bachmann and Pawlenty about her legislative record, between Ron Paul and Rick Santorum about Iran, and between Newt Gingrich and the panel of questioners about his alleged persecution, there was a stunning ideological uniformity on display. Among the eight candidates, not one brooked the possibility of any tax increases to help solve the debt problem, even though John Boehner, a fiscal conservative, seemed to have a mind partly open to that at the start of the debt-ceiling negotiations.

Moe Lane, RedState.Com

I’m on the way out the door to catch a flight home from the RedState Gathering, so my brief take on this: with Pawlenty leaving we’re back down to three real candidates for the Republican nomination again (Bachmann, Perry, & Romney). All three benefit in the short term, obviously; in the long term this probably helps Romney most .

Unless the Bachmann campaign implodes, of course. Bachmann’s probably going to end up wishing that she was competing with Pawlenty for attention instead of Perry. And that confrontation won’t be helped by the fact that Pawlenty’s people are probably even now calling up Perry’s to find alternate employment (which they will get)…

Seth McfLaughlin, Washington Times

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum walked into the sprawling media area and told reporters that his fourth-place finish showed that he’s gaining support, and that will continue to be the case in the coming months.

“We consider ourselves the fine wine candidate,” Mr. Santorum said. “We will age very, very, well in this campaign.”

Michael Barone, Washington Examiner

Rick Perry got 4% as a write-in, better than the 3% for Mitt Romney, who was on the ballot and who won four years ago, and 2% for Newt Gingrich. Jon Huntsman and Thaddeus McCotter each got, rounded off, 0%.

Consequences for the candidates:

Bachmann. She’s got a legitimate win.

Huntsman. His debate performance was surprisingly bad. Who were those 69 people who voted for him? But he’s basing his (increasingly dim) hopes on New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Palin. The Iowa Republican party didn’t announce whether she got any write-in votes, but by calculation she could not have gotten more than 218 votes and presumably she got even fewer. Reasonable conclusion: her appearance at the Iowa State Fair yesterday produced a lot fewer votes than Rick Perry’s announcement speech in Charleston.

Marc Cooper, Dissonance.

Republicans may be crazy but they are not stupid. The real base of the party knows it needs someone who won’t scare little children to confront Obama in any real way. It ain’t gonna be Bachmann.

Bill Egnor, Firedoglake

Think back the first time you really noticed Rep. Bachmann.

For me, it was when she was on Chris Mathews’ show Hardball in the run up to the 2008 elections. Then she was committing the unforced error of saying that she thought there were a lot of members of Congress who were “Un-American” and that the press should be looking into it.

Back then she was just another wild-eyed Republican spouting the most ridiculous nonsense. The nonsense part has not changed at all, but what has changed is now she is a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination.

Sure, she is still wicky-in-the-whacky-woo, and normally that should spell doom for her (certainly almost all the GOP operatives from almost all the campaigns but hers will tell you so) but these aren’t exactly normal times. . .

It would be easy to make fun of Bachamann’s many gaffs and crazy positions but there is something more important going on here. I am never going to be a supporter of a Republican candidate. But they are still going to nominate one of the two people most likely to be in the White House come January 20th 2013.

That being the case, what the hell is going on with our nation that someone as nutty, as incurious, and as misinformed as Michele Bachmann is anywhere close to that nomination? Don’t we deserve serious candidates?

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