Bachmann Takes Lead in Iowa

The Iowa Republican poll out late last night shows that Rep. Michele Bachmann’s sharp focus on Iowa is paying off. The congresswoman has surpassed Mitt Romney in support, 25 to 21 percent. And her 76 percent favorability rating gives even more reason for optimism:

While Bachmann’s lead over Romney is just within the margin of error, the poll’s cross tabs show how much momentum her campaign has generated in Iowa.  Her favorability is ten points higher than Romney’s, who had the second highest number in that category.  Her unfavorable figure is 14 points lower than Romney’s, giving her a stellar plus 65 favorability margin.  Her numbers suggest that Bachmann has found a very effective way to appeal to caucus goers.

The latest poll also brings good news for Tim Pawlenty, who came in at third place at 9 percent (barely beating Herman Cain). Pawlenty seems to have gained momentum since last month’s Des Moines Register poll, where he only garnered 6 percent support and trailed Cain and Newt Gingrich.

After some early stumbles, Pawlenty is gaining his footing in Iowa. He’s hired Sarah Huckabee — the former director of Mike Huckabee’s successful 2008 Iowa showing — as a political adviser. He’s also become more aggressive in his attacks on Bachmann.

Meanwhile, Romney’s decision not to participate in the Ames Straw Poll affirms he’s not interested in seriously competing in the state. If support for Romney continues to die down, the Pawlenty campaign seems to be in a prime position to pick it up. Of course, that could change if Gov. Rick Perry decides to enter the race, which reports indicate he may be very close to doing.