There's fly-over country, and then there's Iowa. Basically a patch of corn somewhere in mid-western America which no one could point to on a map without the little dotted lines marking state borders, Iowa assumes untoward influence during each presidential election cycle for no other reason than someone has to go first in the primaries. And Iowa makes the most of its privileged position - yesterday they had a pre-primary test primary, just to get warmed up. And in the absence of any other electoral news 15 months out from the actual election, this is just the sort of breaking news which is irresistible to Washington-centric journalists.
The fact that Ron Paul consistently ranks among the forerunners in these straw polls (he ranked second this time) ought to indicate their absurdity. Mitt Romney, the obvious GOP frontrunner, didn't make the top three. So Bachmann's first-place result should neither console her followers nor distress her adversaries. Quite simply, the Iowa straw poll "is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."