In a surprise move, and a blunt reflection of the shifting fortunes of Republican presidential candidates ahead of Tuesday's opening voter test, Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign chairman defected Wednesday night to Ron Paul's campaign.What to make of this? A few thoughts:
State Sen. Kent Sorenson, who has strong ties to Iowa's Tea Party, was hired as a Bachmann staffer in Iowa, even before she announced her candidacy. He helped lead her campaign to victory in the Ames Straw Poll in August. Ever since, however, Bachmann's popularity has been in decline.
Recent statewide polling shows her running last among the six Republicans actively competing in Iowa. Paul, meantime, is in a tight race with Mitt Romney for first place in Tuesday's caucuses, the opening vote of the 2012 Republican nomination contest.
"It's difficult, but it's the right thing to do," Sorenson said, in announcing his decision before a crowd of several hundred at a Veterans for Ron Paul rally at the Iowa state fairgrounds in Des Moines.
- Sorenson bet on the wrong horse and he's trying to trade in his parimutuel ticket in the middle of the race. You cannot get by with that at Canterbury Park, but you can certainly try in Iowa. Whether he'll get by with it is another matter. My guess is that Sorenson has hurt himself more than he's hurt Bachmann.
- Loyalty is conditional and careerism is Job One in politics, so Bachmann shouldn't be surprised.
- Paul and Bachmann don't really see the world the same way, so this is strictly about Sorenson.
- If I were to guess, if Bachmann supporters decide to bolt now, they'd be more likely to support Rick Santorum than Paul.
- Santorum might do a little better than people expect if the evangelical vote that Bachmann was courting heads his way. Then again, Santorum is Catholic and for some evangelicals, that's a bridge too far. It will be interesting to see how far evangelicals are willing to travel.
- As a practical matter, Dave Weigel pretty much got the upshot for Bachmann: "This changes everything. Instead of having to drop out on January 4, Bachmann will have to drop out on January 4."