Michele Bachmann bombs in Iowa caucus, finishes in sixth place [UPDATED]


Michele Bachmann did not get the miracle she was praying for in Iowa Tuesday night.

With 99 percent of votes tallied in the Iowa caucus, Bachmann has officially finished in a distant sixth place, losing to every candidate but John Huntsman, who didn't even campaign for the event.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney virtually tied for first place, each taking around 24.5 percent of the vote. Texas congressman Ron Paul followed in a close third, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Bachmann racked up a mere five percent, a miserable showing that has dire implications to the future of her presidential campaign. An Iowa native, the Minnesota congresswoman devoted a substantial portion of her campaign to trying to appeal to the state's social conservative voters. Clearly, that strategy failed.

As we chronicled in this week's feature, "The Fall of Michele Bachmann," it's been a long way down for Bachmann since the Ames Straw Poll in mid-August. In the two and a half months following Ames, she went from Republican frontrunner to barely hanging in the race.

"Her fall was precipitous," said Donald Downs, political science professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in an interview last month. "It was strong and forceful. It almost seemed to be overnight."

Moving forward, there's no indication that things are going to get any better for Team Bachmann. From here, the campaign trail leads to the primary in New Hampshire -- the state where Bachmann's entire staff quit en masse last October. Recent polls predict Bachmann will land somewhere in the low single digits (again).

As the results came in Tuesday night and Bachmann continued to lose ground, it raised an obvious question: Would Bachmann continue to campaign?

Bachmann gave us an answer around 10:40 p.m., when she addressed the crowd with a speech riddled with strange remarks, given the caucus results. At first, it sounded like she was about to bow out of the race, proclaiming that "the people of Iowa have spoken."

"The process worked," she continued, appearing exhausted. "It's the people of Iowa who chose tonight. It wasn't the pundits. It wasn't the media."

Bachmann's interpretation of Iowa's message is a little mysterious, however. She did, after all, lose in every county -- even her birth place.

But she went on to lay out the future of her campaign, making it clear she wasn't going anywhere. Comparing herself to Ronald Reagan, Bachmann said she was the "true conservative who can and who will defeat Barack Obama."

"There are many more chapters to be written on the path to our presidential nomination," she said.

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