Tim Pawlenty's spinal flat tire has set off a good couple weeks for Mitt Romney. But a new poll from John Zogby shows what we all already know: a fait accompli for Romney this primary is not.
The new Zogby poll shows Bachmann surging to the lead of the primary field at 24 percent, while Herman Cain and Mitt Romney are tied at 15 percent. Interestingly, when respondents were asked who they thought would win the primary, 37 percent said Romney, while only 7 percent chose Bachmann.
While pollsters have long questioned Zogby's methodology and credibility, it's nonetheless an intriguing development. It seems to comport well with how we see the current state of the race. Michele Bachmann is the grassroots darling that activists across the country have followed for years, though she is just beginning to receive a more thorough vetting. Her profile in the Tea Party movement has given her rock star status, and the grassroots momentum to match, leaving many Republicans with a positive impression of her.
On the other hand, Republican primary voters have long showed a willingness to vote their heads, not their hearts. Polls have shown that Republican primary voters this cycle value the ability to beat Obama over everything else. The Zogby poll seems to hint at this, with voters saying they love Bachmann the most, but realize their fellow party compatriots are likely to nominate Romney, as he is the only Republican currently beating Obama in a head-to-head matchup in some polls.
The view that Bachmann is not as electable as Romney in the general election will continue to haunt her candidacy until her numbers improve. Romney's best hope is that she is unable to appeal to voters beyond her current base, as Romney has no chance to take Bachmann on in conservative activist support. In other words, Romney hopes that Bachmann goes the way of Mike Huckabee, another grassroots favorite in Iowa that was unable to expand that to a wider base across the country and in bigger, more moderate leaning primary states like Florida.
Fortunately for Romney, unlike the Zogby poll, the GOP primary is not a national primary — it is a state by state contest, and Romney may well be the only candidate with enough resources to jump island to island every time. Still, the news for Romniacs is concerning…a reminder that this one is a long way from over.