Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann seems to have taken the number two spot among Republican primary voters in the early polling. Following her mid June announcement, Bachmann has been on a meteoric rise in native (until age 12) state Iowa and among many tea party adherents, Evangelical Christians, and social conservatives.
Pros: Ability to connect with party faithful, appeal in socially conservative Iowa and South Carolina (both early states), seen as outsider in contrast to mainstream Mitt Romney, loyalty of followers, female candidate in a white male dominated field, fund raising rapidly, support from conservative talk radio.
Cons: Extremely gaffe-prone, extreme conservatism may not play well outside of socially conservative states, lack of executive experience, not well-regarded in the House, reminds some of Sarah Palin, has made a number of statements in the past that some would consider to be out of the political mainstream.
Odds for the nomination: Bachmann really needs a win in Iowa and is placing a lot of effort in doing just that. Follow that with a strong showing in NH, wins in the deep South, and then slugging it out for the nomination. Her best chance is to make this a two-person race between her and Romney (with Huntsman splitting the moderate vote with Romney) and to count on tea party and an insurgent wave. However, my bet (with six months to go, very much out on a limb) is that she will fizzle in the end done in by numerous gaffes and her low chances of electability against President Obama.
However, I can certainly see her being on the VP short-list of a Romney or Pawlenty especially if there a need to unify the party.
Next Up - Tim Pawlenty.