Michele Bachmann vanquished Tim Pawlenty and the other Republican also-rans in yesterday's Iowa straw poll, so let the real battle royale for the right begin—Bachmann vs. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, writes Steve Kornacki at Salon. "She crushed her biggest mainstream competitor," he writes, and Ron Paul, despite finishing a close second, is a "niche candidate." But Bachmann vs. Perry? With "the political world taking her more seriously," says Kornacki, "she'll put up a whale of a fight."
Which is all very good news for one Mitt Romney: Had Bachmann failed to clean house yesterday, Perry might have had the momentum to marginalize her, woo the "purist" wing of the party, and shore up the GOP base, which has long been wary of Romney. "So the longer Perry is tied down in a fight with Bachmann for the true believer vote, the better Romney has to feel," writes Kornacki. (Read more 2012 Presidential Candidates stories.)