John McCormack is a staff writer for The Weekly Standard.
Michele Bachmann scored a victory Saturday at the Ames GOP presidential straw poll that confirmed her position as the front-runner in Iowa. But just how deep does support for the Minnesota congresswoman run? While Bachmann certainly has a reputation for drawing intense and loyal support from Tea Partiers and evangelicals, almost all of the Bachmann supporters I spoke to Saturday in Ames said they weren't certain to support her in the Iowa caucuses.
"I appreciate her fundamental values for the American family," said Bachmann voter Drew Claassen, a twenty-something from Ames. "I'm waiting for Sarah Palin to jump in the race," he continued, saying the Alaska governor would be his first choice.
"She's not my final choice, she's my present choice," Iowa voter Roger Peterson said of Bachmann. He said he wants to see how the field develops before February.
"I liked what she had to say about partial birth abortion and marriage is between one man and one woman. She's right on," said Bachmann voter Wilma Hague, a senior citizen from Waukee whose second choice was Tim Pawlenty. But will she support Bachmann in February? "I have no idea. It's a long time yet. It's just beginning."
"I was kind of going for Pawlenty. I like him because I think he's got a lot of know-how, but I think [Bachmann's] got a stronger values system," said Betty from Badger, Iowa. "I just liked her Christian values. She brought in the idea of marriage--she was the only one wasn't she?" (Rick Santorum, who came in fourth, mentioned the issue of marriage during his speech, too.)
"I'm not real firm with Michele Bachmann. I'm between her and Tim Pawlenty," said Lorene Swanson of West Des Moines. One of the deciding factors that tipped the scales in Bachmann's favor was the congresswoman's "strong faith," said Swanson.
"We've liked Michele about as long as MSNBC has been knocking her. So we figured, okay she's got something going for her because they really hate her," said Judy Taylor of Spencer, Iowa. "I do like Rick Perry a lot," she added, but she'd "have to know more about him." That remark--"I need to know more about him"--was almost the universal response from Ames voters I talked to about Rick Perry.
"I like how she delivers," said Etta Dorrell of Des Moines. "At this point," Dorrell said, her commitment to Bachmann is "strong, but whether that lasts, I don't know."
There are certainly die-hard Bachmann supporters out there in the world, but, for what it's worth, they just weren't found among the the twenty or so Bachmann voters I spoke to in Ames Saturday. That's not to say that Bachmann's supporters were more ambivalent about their candidate than Santorum voters or Cain voters or Pawlenty voters. But the sentiment among almost all straw poll voters I interviewed (at least the ones who didn't vote for Ron Paul) was one of less than total commitment.