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Just weeks after Rep. Michele Bachmann won the Ames Iowa straw poll, her campaign has seemed to fallen apart. The latest Power Outsiders poll conducted by The Huffington Post and Patch found that Bachmann is losing credibility.
Nearly half of the influential local Republicans were surveyed in the early primary states, including New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, report a negative impression of Bachmann, and more than two thirds see little or no chance that Bachmann can either beat Barack Obama or win the Republican nomination.
This week, the HuffPost-Patch Power Outsiders poll of 160 political activists, party officials and officeholders in the early primary and caucus states focuses on Bachmann. The poll does not survey all Republican voters, but focused on influential local activists and political insiders that have historically driven the outcome of party nomination campaigns.
This week, we heard from 38 Power Outsiders in Iowa, 57 in New Hampshire and 65 in South Carolina. The poll first asked respondents to use one word to describe their impression of Bachmann. Unlike with the two frontrunners, nearly half the words (48 percent) to describe Bachmann were negative, including “inexperienced,” “crazy,” “lightweight” and “scary.”
Fewer words (43 percent) were unambiguously positive, including “passionate,” “energetic,” “principled,” “determined” and “feisty.” Although we classified 8 percent of the comments as neutral, these included words like “conservative” (mentioned by 4 percent) that could have either a positive or negative connotation for the respondent.
The comparison between the one-word reaction to Bachmann and the two front-runners is stark. The influential local Republican activists we talked to were nearly twice as likely to use a negative word to describe Bachmann (48 percent) as Romney (28 percent) or Perry (24 percent) on previous surveys.
The Power Outsiders do express affinity for Bachmann’s issue positions. Nearly four out of five (78 percent) describe her as someone who “takes stands on issues you agree with,” although less than a third (29 percent) say that phrase describes Bachmann “very well.”
Respondents gave far more negative reactions to Bachmann when asked about other characteristics. Only 40 percent describe her as someone who “would make a good president,” and her ratings plunge on matters of viability. Only 29 percent describe her as someone “who can beat Barack Obama in the general election,” and even fewer (26 percent) say she can win the Republican nomination.
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