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John Wayne who? Michele Bachmann getting last laugh in polls

June 29, 2011|By Michael Muskal
  • Michele Bachmann greets supporters while campaigning in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Michele Bachmann greets supporters while campaigning in Myrtle Beach,… (Emmanuel Parisse/AFP/Getty…)

Michele Bachmann’s gaffe-rich entry into the GOP presidential sweepstakes may be drawing guffaws from some, but the Minnesota congresswoman appears to be having the last laugh as polls show that Republican voters think well of her and that she is a credible candidate moving quickly up the rankings.

According to the Suffolk University/7NEWS poll, Bachmann is in second place with 11% of likely New Hampshire voters, a leap of 8 percentage points. FormerMassachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, essentially a favorite son in New Hampshire, drew 36% of the vote, up one point since May.

That strong showing in the poll of the voters in the first-of-the nation primary, follows a solid second-place showing in a weekend poll of voters in Iowa, where the first presidential selection contest, the caucus, will be held.

Bachmann began the current presidential cycle in a solid position in name recognition and likability but far back in the second tier of candidates. Her name recognition was at 52% in late winter, but she has zoomed up to 69% in the latest Gallup poll, covering June 13-26. The candidates debated on June 13 in Manchester, N.H., where Bachmann performed well, and that seems to have helped the political climb.

According to Gallup, Bachmann ranks fifth in name recognition behind Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Romney and Texas  Rep. Ron Paul. But she is ahead former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a fellow Minnesotan, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who also recently declared his formal candidacy.

Of course, it takes more than name recognition to win the nomination. For example, both Palin and Gingrich are well known but are seen as polarizing figures, and both have been weakening in recent polls. Palin has yet to announce her intentions, though there is a growing feeling that she will skip the 2012 race. Gingrich, who has announced, has gone through several weeks of internal campaign battles.

Gallup uses a measure called the positive intensity score, essentially the difference between strongly favorable and strongly unfavorable. By that yardstick, Bachmann, at 24, is tied for first place with businessman Herman Cain, who has also been climbing in rankings in recent weeks, outperforming some of the other candidates with more political experience.

Romney and Bachmann were the only candidates to reach double digits in the Suffolk University/7NEWS poll, which looked at 18 candidates, some declared and some not.

“Despite being a long way from home, it’s clear that Bachmann is finding momentum in the Granite State,” said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University’s Political Research Center.

“Romney has managed to stay on top throughout some shakeups in the Republican field.”

Paul, a libertarian icon for years, has remained steady at 8% since early May, ranking him third and putting him ahead of Palin at 4% and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at 5%. The mayor has been eyeing a possible run.

A majority of New Hampshire Republicans said they viewed themselves as conservatives, and most said they were in sync with the ideals of the “tea party” movement.

The New Hampshire survey interviewed 400 likely Republican presidential primary voters from June 25 to 27. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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