Michele Bachmann narrowly edges Ron Paul to win Iowa Straw Poll

Michele Bachmann, made a bit of history today, becoming the first woman to win the Iowa straw poll. The U.S. Congresswoman from Minnesota is now the official front-runner in the Hawkeye State:

With 16,892 Iowans casting ballots, Bachmann won with 4,823 votes. Texas’ Ron Paul, who was locked in a nail-biting duel for the trophy, claimed second with 4,671.

Fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty’s distant third-place finish, with 2,293 votes, signaled serious trouble, several Iowa Republicans and politics watchers said. Pawlenty, a former governor, took off only five days from the Iowa campaign trail, excluding Sundays, in the month leading up to the straw poll. His staffers had tried to energize his campaign by blanketing the state with TV, radio and mail advertisements and investing everything it could in bus rentals to haul backers to Ames.

Pawlenty’s national office opened its checkbook for the Iowa operation.

“Filling buses was everything,” said Christian Fong, a Cedar Rapids Republican who backs Pawlenty.

But the campaign failed to deliver.

“This is a mortal wound for Tim Pawlenty,” said Jeff Roe, a GOP strategist who worked on Mike Huckabee’s campaign in 2008. “He is so hobbled by these results. I don’t know how he could continue to fundraise and run a credible campaign.”

Rep. Bachmann’s campaign had gambled that she would win the straw poll by scheduling guest appearances on no less than five Sunday morning talk shows. Bachmann will field questions tomorrow on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” CBS’ “Face the Nation,” ABC’s “This Week,” “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union.”

= JP

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