“This is what victory looks like.”
That was presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, mid-afternoon Saturday, reveling among her volunteers and campaign workers in Iowa.
But by evening, the Des Moines Register told a different story. The Minnesota Republican placed last in the newspaper’s much-watched final poll before Tuesday’s pivotal Iowa GOP caucuses.
As expected, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney topped the Des Moines Register poll of likely Republican caucus goers, with 24 percent support. In close second, and still a threat to win, was Texas congressman Ron Paul, at 22 percent.
The big surprise-not-so-big-surprise in the top three: A surging Rick Santorum, the candidate closest to Bachmann on the right side of the ideological continuum, now at 15 percent.
The poll was conducted Tuesday through Friday, a tumultuous period for Bachmann, who saw two of her top campaign aides depart, one defecting to Paul.
The Register’s caveat: “The four-day results don’t reflect just how quickly momentum is shifting in a race that has remained highly fluid for months. If the final two days of polling are considered separately, Santorum rises to second place, with 21 percent, pushing Paul to third, at 18 percent. Romney remains the same, at 24 percent.”
All that said, now fading into fourth place: former Iowa poll leader and House speaker, Newt Gingrich, at 12 percent in the Register poll. Just behind him is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, at 11 percent. And bringing up the rear, at 7 percent, is Bachmann. (Jon Huntsman has not been campaigning in Iowa).
The Bachmann’s campaign take? Poll respondents aren’t necessarily the same people who will be motivated enough to show up at the caucuses Tuesday night, when she’s still hoping for a miracle.
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Still a sliver of possibility, however.