Who is a Michele Bachmann voter?


Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., answers a question during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) (Jim Cole/AP)

Amid all the speculation about where Bachmann now fits into the 2012 GOP race, we had the crack Post polling team break out the Minnesota Republican’s support in the latest Post/ABC national survey.

The result: Bachmann’s support among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents is strong, shallow and (largely) shared with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

In an attempt to figure out who exactly was a Bachmann voter — or, at least, a potential Bachmann voter — we took the percentage of people who said they would strongly consider voting for her and subtracted the percentage of people who said they would definitely not consider voting for her.

By that measure, Bachmann’s two strongest performing groups are strong tea party supporters (+23) and very conservative Republicans (+12). Her weakest? People who identified themselves as either not strong supporters of the tea party or not supporters of the movement at all (-17) and those who defined themselves as not very conservative (-13).

Viewed more broadly, 59 percent of those who said they would strongly consider voting for Bachmann identified as tea party supporters — higher than the 45 percent of strong tea party supporters who said they would strongly voting for Palin.

The Bachmann-Palin comparisons in the data are also interesting since the Minnesota Republican is constantly being compared to the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.

And, in the Post/ABC data it’s clear that Bachmann and Palin share very similar voting blocs. Like Bachmann, Palin performs best among strong tea party supporters (+29) and very conservative voters (+18) and even more poorly than the Congresswoman among non tea party backers and those who identify themselves as something short of very conservative.

But while Bachmann supporters are almost certain to be Palin supporters, the opposite isn’t necessarily true; the second choice of those who said Palin was their first pick is former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, not Bachmann. That’s likely the result of the fact that a good amount of Palin support is based on name identification not simply ideological allegiance.

There are two conclusions to be drawn from the data.

First, Bachmann’s support in the Republican presidential primary process is strongly correlated with her strength within the tea party movement.

That’s a good and a bad thing for Bachmann.

On the good side, it affords her a political base with a group that proved in the 2010 midterms that it can exert considerable force within a Republican primary.

On the bad, most polling suggests that GOP voters are interested, first and foremost, in a candidate who can beat President Obama. Bachmann’s appeal outside of tea partiers is decidedly limited at this — admittedly early — stage of the process.

The other conclusion from the data is that Bachmann would be badly hurt — at least at the start — if Palin decided to run since they are competing for a very similar pool of voters.

Palin, too, would be likely be negatively impacted by Bachmann if she decided to get into the race although it would be slightly less direct since Palin is a better known commodity with a broader base within the party at the moment.

Bachmann’s best hope at the nomination is clearly a field without Palin who would likely compete with her for the mantle of favorite daughter of the tea party movement.

In a race without Palin, Bachmann, judging from the Post/ABC data, would have a real opportunity to rally the vast majority of tea party supporters behind her — a strategy that, if she could pull it off, would make her a viable challenger to the more establishment types like Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

To win the nomination, however, Bachmann would have to find ways not to deepen her support but to widen it. (Palin, since 2008, has primarily been interested in re-affirming her iconic status within a loyal but narrow band of voters.)

Bachmann’s debate performance suggests she understands the idea — and necessity -- of growing her support base. Whether she can sell herself as a real option to Republican voters outside of the tea party remains to be seen.

by Chris Cillizza


Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., answers a question during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) (Jim Cole/AP)

Amid all the speculation about where Bachmann now fits into the 2012 GOP race, we had the crack Post polling team break out the Minnesota Republican’s support in the latest Post/ABC national survey.

The result: Bachmann’s support among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents is strong, shallow and (largely) shared with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

In an attempt to figure out who exactly was a Bachmann voter — or, at least, a potential Bachmann voter — we took the percentage of people who said they would strongly consider voting for her and subtracted the percentage of people who said they would definitely not consider voting for her.

By that measure, Bachmann’s two strongest performing groups are strong tea party supporters (+23) and very conservative Republicans (+12). Her weakest? People who identified themselves as either not strong supporters of the tea party or not supporters of the movement at all (-17) and those who defined themselves as not very conservative (-13).

Viewed more broadly, 59 percent of those who said they would strongly consider voting for Bachmann identified as tea party supporters — higher than the 45 percent of strong tea party supporters who said they would strongly voting for Palin.

The Bachmann-Palin comparisons in the data are also interesting since the Minnesota Republican is constantly being compared to the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.

And, in the Post/ABC data it’s clear that Bachmann and Palin share very similar voting blocs. Like Bachmann, Palin performs best among strong tea party supporters (+29) and very conservative voters (+18) and even more poorly than the Congresswoman among non tea party backers and those who identify themselves as something short of very conservative.

But while Bachmann supporters are almost certain to be Palin supporters, the opposite isn’t necessarily true; the second choice of those who said Palin was their first pick is former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, not Bachmann. That’s likely the result of the fact that a good amount of Palin support is based on name identification not simply ideological allegiance.

There are two conclusions to be drawn from the data.

First, Bachmann’s support in the Republican presidential primary process is strongly correlated with her strength within the tea party movement.

That’s a good and a bad thing for Bachmann.

On the good side, it affords her a political base with a group that proved in the 2010 midterms that it can exert considerable force within a Republican primary.

On the bad, most polling suggests that GOP voters are interested, first and foremost, in a candidate who can beat President Obama. Bachmann’s appeal outside of tea partiers is decidedly limited at this — admittedly early — stage of the process.

The other conclusion from the data is that Bachmann would be badly hurt — at least at the start — if Palin decided to run since they are competing for a very similar pool of voters.

Palin, too, would be likely be negatively impacted by Bachmann if she decided to get into the race although it would be slightly less direct since Palin is a better known commodity with a broader base within the party at the moment.

Bachmann’s best hope at the nomination is clearly a field without Palin who would likely compete with her for the mantle of favorite daughter of the tea party movement.

In a race without Palin, Bachmann, judging from the Post/ABC data, would have a real opportunity to rally the vast majority of tea party supporters behind her — a strategy that, if she could pull it off, would make her a viable challenger to the more establishment types like Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

To win the nomination, however, Bachmann would have to find ways not to deepen her support but to widen it. (Palin, since 2008, has primarily been interested in re-affirming her iconic status within a loyal but narrow band of voters.)

Bachmann’s debate performance suggests she understands the idea — and necessity -- of growing her support base. Whether she can sell herself as a real option to Republican voters outside of the tea party remains to be seen.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

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