Ames, Iowa — Michele Bachmann had an event this evening scheduled for 8:30. At 9:10, her bus has just now pulled up. (Speakers from the Values Bus, a joint effort of the Family Research Council, Susan B. Anthony List, and National Organization for Marriage, killed some time warming up the crowd.) But by 8:00, there were already almost as many people waiting for Bachmann as there were at the Pawlenty event I wrote about earlier at its peak. There will be free food here later, but that’s not why these people showed up. They’re here to see Bachmann, and when a campaign staffer asked who wanted to volunteer first thing in the morning to help transport people to the straw poll, a lot of them raised their hands.
Bachmann hasn’t built as well-oiled campaign machine like Pawlenty (and her lateness is a symptom of that), but she may not need to. Pawlenty’s campaign looks like an organization trying to grind out votes one by one. Bachmann’s looks like one that is organically develping self-perpetuating support through the strength of her fans’ passion. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I see the crowd here tomorrow, but right now it’s hard for me to believe that Bachmann won’t leave Pawlenty in the dust.