Michele Bachmann is rising in the latest New Hampshire poll and the most recent Iowa poll shows her nearly dead even with Mitt Romney. This might seem good for some Bachmann supporters, but to political analysts and campaign insiders, this should actually be cause for concern.
Gaining momentum in a campaign is positive, but you do not want it to come this early in the campaign season. If you peak too early, it literally means that you reach the highest point that you can too soon. So it is actually better to be where Huntsman or Pawlenty are -- polling low and waiting for the wave of support to catch on -- than to be suddenly rising now.
Mitt Romney is a different story. He is ahead of the pack nationally, and some conventional wisdom suggests that he will endure. In fact, according to Gallup, the frontrunner in polling for the Republican nomination has won the nomination nearly every time in an open primary since 1952. But the flip side is that there really has not been any clear national frontrunner in this race (shifting through Palin, Romney and Huckabee in the early months).
If Bachmann does peak too soon, Romney will be the first one to benefit, as he is polling first in Iowa (the first state to hold an election).
Jon Huntsman is focusing on New Hampshire (which is an open primary -- which means that both Republicans and independents can vote) South Carolina and Florida, as he recently mentioned in a speech in the Sunshine State. He may not be the anti-Romney but, instead, the anti-establishment candidate. Riding motocross into the election may have garnered both some fans and some criticism, but conventional campaigning will not defeat Obama in the general election. Huntsman remains committed to civility, and it is he who likely has the best chance of defeating Obama in the general, should the party move in this direction.
Pawlenty is polling low but, again, this is not the end of the world. The goal right now is not to peak too early. If his message can resonate with Iowa voters and he can gain some momentum from an Iowa win, then maybe he will be the candidate to win the state. And if he rolls out of Iowa with a win, then he can move onto New Hampshire, and beyond, with momentum, and possibly win the nomination.
Again, the speculation is just beginning. Let's wait for more polling data, straw polls and the debates. Watch for all of the candidates to try to meticulously take Romney down. The main narrative here is that Bachmann's rise is not actually good; it is just the opposite and is actually better for Romney, Huntsman and Pawlenty than it is for her. Her main strategy in the coming weeks will be to "lower expectations." For example, watch her do less media appearances in Iowa.