A fictional vice president on “The West Wing” once said, “You know what they call a leader with no followers? Just a guy taking a walk.” The character ended up losing his party’s nomination when he ran for president on his own.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota does not seem to be just taking a walk. Instead, she’s making a footprint in the donor, social media and mainstream worlds.
The Congresswoman will appear on “John King, USA” tonight at 7pm EST, having attracted fascination from conservatives and liberals alike. Even so, after CNN first reported her intent to form a presidential exploratory committee, many establishment eyes rolled.
Rarely do House members make it to the White House. She has a penchant for inciting the left. She keeps fact checkers working over time. She has only been in Congress since 2007. Some of her potential rivals within the GOP have or once had contracts with the most prominent conservative platform, Fox News. And many of her other rivals have or once had constituencies of millions.
However, her ability to sponge fundraising dollars and her ability to pique the interest of both grassroots individuals and the mass media show she will be no debate sideshow.
Most notably, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Bachmann has a unique fundraising prowess. Not only did her campaign raise more money than any other House member during the 2010 cycle, but more than half of those funds came from small donors, many of whom are retired, a notoriously formidable voting bloc.
The small donor base mirrors a strong social media following. Bachmann has one of the largest political Facebook followings (213,301) for anyone who has not previously run for president. Her Twitter following (40,315) is anything but anemic. Both of those numbers beat those of Republicans Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty , and Rick Santorum.
Additionally, it is not merely social media and political donors who have noticed Bachmann. According to a LexisNexis search, since the beginning of the year, her name has been omnipresent on television and in publications. She has been discussed in the mass media more than anyone in the Republican field since the beginning of the year except for Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.
Searches were current as of this afternoon.
(Includes common misspellings of her name)
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 1,655
213,301 Facebook likes
40,315 Twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 766
17,774 Facebook likes
13,686 Twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 1,281
46,174 Facebook likes
5,764 Twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 2,126
120,833 Facebook likes
1,313,893 twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 1,363
560,512 Facebook likes
143,024 Twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 309
1,677 Facebook likes
1,789 Twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 5,186
2,867,368 Facebook likes
474,518 Twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 1,199
82,040 Facebook likes
29,360 Twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 1,660
838,368 Facebook likes
32,147 Twitter followers
Combined Nexis TV, newspaper, magazine mentions: 437
13,483 Facebook likes
5,925 Twitter followers