WASHINGTON Michele Bachmann's top pollster is leaving her presidential campaign, the latest staff departure in recent weeks as the congresswoman struggles to regain her footing after a drop in support in national polls.
Veteran Republican pollster Ed Goeas told Reuters on Monday he was leaving in two weeks because his role is reduced now that Bachmann will be putting all her focus on Iowa.
"Doing a lot of polling is not what you do in Iowa. You spend your money on voter identification," Goeas said.
Bachmann won the nonbinding Iowa straw poll in August but her campaign has floundered since then after several gaffes and disappointing debate performances.
The Iowa caucuses are the first national test for Republican candidates seeking the nomination to take on Democratic President Barack Obama as he runs for re-election in 2012.
Bachmann needs to win Iowa to revive her campaign, analysts say.
Craig Robinson, editor of the Iowa Republican said the departure is a sign that the campaign is struggling and said she will still need pollsters despite her Iowa focus.
"At the presidential level, you do need to do some polling," said Robinson, who is not affiliated with a campaign. "This looks like a campaign that is getting lean. It shows you how far she has fallen."
Longtime Republican strategist Ed Rollins and his deputy left Bachmann's team last month following disagreements about strategy.
Bachmann's campaign has been shaken by the entry of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the race the day she won the Iowa straw poll.
Experts say the drop in poll numbers would inevitably affect her fundraising. Bachmann reported a disappointing $3.6 million in the second quarter, with a good chunk of that coming from her House of Representatives' account.
(Additional reporting by Todd Melby)
(Reporting by Kim Dixon; Editing by Xavier Briand)