Michele Bachmann’s rise and fall, in one chart

Until Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) announced early Wednesday morning that she would not run for reelection, she technically still had a career in politics. But as a figure with national relevance, she had long since peaked.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on "Meet the Press."
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) on "Meet the Press."

One way to mark Bachmann's declining impact? The number of times she appeared on Sunday shows over the last three-plus years. (Sunday news shows are a  a marker -- albeit it an imperfect one -- of who is at the center of the political conversation in Washington.)

In 2011, Bachmann appeared on Sunday shows a whopping 20 times, more than any other lawmaker. That was the year the tea party was ascendant in Congress and the year she gave a State of the Union rebuttal on its behalf, the year she landed a spot on the House Intelligence Committee, the year Republicans first voted to repeal Obamacare, and the year she launched her presidential campaign. It was a dramatic change in from 2010 when Bachmann appeared on only two Sunday shows.


In January of 2012, Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race. She faced a difficult congressional race back home. She alienated members of her own party by making accusations against an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That year, she appeared on 7 Sunday shows.

Halfway through 2013, Bachmann hasn't done Sunday television once. She faces an ethics investigation, questions from the FBI, and a lawsuit in Iowa over the actions of her presidential campaign. The tea party caucus has essentially disappeared, and the conservative movement has found new leaders in Congress.

Two years ago, Bachmann had a bigger national platform than her own party's leadership and senior members. Today she is something close to a backbencher.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Chris Cillizza · May 30, 2013