Michele Bachmann
Michele BachmannIsrael news photo

Rep. Michele Bachman won a straw poll in Iowa Saturday, upsetting the crowded field Republican of presidential nominee hopefuls and threatening the prospects for Sarah Palin.

The poll, taken in an annual carnival-like atmosphere complete with barbeque and live music, has no formal significance but has a strong psychological impact.

She won 29 percent of the straw vote, leaving a disappointed Tim Pawlenty in third place and surprisingly strong contender Herman Cain in fifth place. Cain, a businessman who previously has not ventured into politics, plans to visit Israel this week to attack the Glenn Beck Restoring Courage rally in Jerusalem. Texas Congressman Ron Paul was in second place.

Pawlenty's poor showing has convinced him to announce on Sunday that he is withdrawing form the race, sources said.

Palin, who ran in 2008 as the vice-presidential candidate with Senator John McCain, so far has not announced whether she will run for the Republican party presidential nomination next summer.

Bachmann said after her victor in the Iowa poll. "This is the very first step toward taking the White House in 2012.”

Her most serous competition, outside of front-runner Mitt Romney who did not run in the straw poll, may come from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who formally announced his candidacy on Saturday. He is a close friend of Israel but may have scared off some Jewish voters with his statement in the past that the presidency is “what I’ve been called to” and that “Jesus” will save America.

Regardless of the pro-Israel stands by Bachmann, Perry and Palin, the main issue on the minds of American voters is the economy.

Bachmann, a Christian, is a favorite of the Tea Party but has not stated if she would agree with the faction’s growing demand that the United States cuts it debt by slicing foreign aid – including assistance to Israel.