Michele Bachmann Out, Rick Perry Staying In

After a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses, Michele Bachmann is out of the Presidential race:

Michele Bachmann announced Wednesday morning that she would drop her presidential bid following her sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday night.

“Last night, the people in Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to step aside,” Bachmann told supporters in West Des Moines.

Her departure from the GOP race will give a boost to Rick Santorum, whose recent surge put him in a virtual tie with Mitt Romney last night. Heading into South Carolina, where evangelical and social conservative voters dominate the pool of potential voters, Santorum will be in a better position to consolidate that support.

Bachmann got just 5 percent of the vote in Tuesday night’s caucuses, coming in last of the six candidates who actively contested the state.

Bachmann’s campaign peaked in August, when she took a narrow win in the Ames Straw Poll. But her momentum was immediately stolen by Rick Perry, the Texas governor who launched his own campaign that same day in South Carolina, and quickly began upstaging Bachmann at Iowa events.

Perry also stole a little bit of Bachmann’s thunder today when, after saying last night that he would “reassess” his campaign, he announced he would be staying in the race:

Rick Perry tweets he’s not dropping out of the presidential race after all:

“And the next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State…Here we come South Carolina!!!”

So, Perry has decided to mostly bypass New Hampshire, where he is polling dead last and concentrate on the potentially more friendly ground of South Carolina. It’s a smart move on his part, I think, because he remains the only Southern Republican in the race and that alone, along with his military background, may help him appeal to voters in the Palmetto State.

The impact of Bachmann’s withdrawal is likely to be minimal. She’s only a few points a head of Perry in the New Hampshire polls, and in single digits in South Carolina, where there hasn’t been any polling for three weeks now. Her supporters, or those that are left, are likely to drift to Santorum, Gingrich, or Perry but they are such a small number that they’re unlikely to have much of an impact on the race.

Perry’s decision to stay in the race, meanwhile, strikes me as potentially helping Mitt Romney, especially in South Carolina. The longer the anti-Romney vote remains divided the better off Mitt Romney will be, although it does mean that there will be more people to take shots at him over the next two weeks.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mattb says:

    The other interesting aspect of Perry staying in the race is to see how he differentiates himself from Santorum.

    This means presenting an argument for why social conservatives and christian conservatives should shift their vote from the person who got the strong nod in Iowa. One has to wonder is Santorum’s Catholicism will become more of a talking-point for Perry proxies.

  2. I think Perry staying in could help Paul. He’ll dilute Santorum’s social conservative support.

  3. @Eric Williams:

    Paul’s campaign isn’t going anywhere after New Hampshire for reasons I discussed last month.

  4. Moosebreath says:

    Doug,

    “because he remains the only Southern Republican in the race”

    In what sense is Gingrich not a Southern Republican?

  5. The Florida Masochist says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Ron Paul, like Perry, is from Texas.

  6. Gingrich and Paul are nominally from the South.

    I would not put either them in the category of candidates that typically appeal to Southern conservative Republicans. Perry seems to fit that much better. Whether that helps him in S. Carolina remains to be seen

  7. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I really don’t see Perry making much headway in S Carolina, especially when Gov Haley endorsed Mitt, much to the Perry camps surprise (Haley and Perry have some common politcal buddies).

  8. mattb says:

    There’s another — perhaps more inside baseball — reason for Perry to stick it out: being the good soldier.

    Reading the tea leaves, the “establishment GOP” is backing Romney. And, I suspect, they want the primaries over as quickly as possible (especially now that Newt is threatening to go nuclear). Perry campaigning in SC has the chance to weaken Santorum’s chances of bleeding votes from Romney.

    If Romney can take NH and SC, then that’s pretty much that. Keeping that in mind, it’s in Romney’s interest for Perry to run. And, that in turn, could either — as a long shot — shore up Perry for a VP position or help Perry put in a good enough showing for a 2016 run.

  9. Murray says:

    Bachman ran an honest and clean campaign. She is very clear on her positions without being abrasive or offensive.