Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann has topped Mitt Romney in a recent Iowa poll. Reuters

Tea Party sweetheart Michele Bachmann has topped long-time Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney in a recent poll of the state of Iowa.

The polling, conducted by The Iowa Republican, had Bachmmann in the lead with 25 percent of the vote with Romney coming in at second with 21 percent.

The two politicians have emerged as the GOP's top candidates though the two engage vastly different sections of the conservative movement.

Romney has already tried his hand at a presidential run in 2008 and although he lost out to John McCain, he has used the last three years as an opportunity to build up his financial war chest.

He is known for his strength in finances, something that will likely be the main focal point of the 2012 elections, plus Republicans love to choose retreads as their candidate. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and John McCain were all Republican candidates that did not secure the nomination on the first try but eventually managed to win and get an opportunity to run for president.

Bachmann is the upstart that is favored by the Tea Party movement. She is a frequent guest on cable television programs and has developed quite a devoted following, despite some very public gaffes. She doesn't have the money or organizational strength of Romney but clearly has the momentum on her side at this point.

Not only does Bachmann lead in the likely voters section, but also has a better favorability rating than the former Massachusetts governor. Her favorability rating is 10 points higher than Romney's, additionally her unfavorable rating is 14 points lower.

It should be noted though that Bachmann has also made Iowa a key state during her run for president. She officially kicked off her presidential campaign in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa and it appears to have worked wonders.

Rise of Bachmann, Demise of Pawlenty?

Rounding out the rest of the pack were former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain around nine percent, Rep. Ron Paul at six percent, Former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich at four percent, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum at two percent, and former Utah senator Jon Huntsman at one percent.

The rise of Bachmann as the main contender along with Romney, does not bode particularly well for Pawlenty. Although these numbers do show a sign of life that had been recently been missing from the Pawlenty campaign, it still isn't a cause for celebration. Pawlenty had geared up for a presidential run for what seemed like an eternity ago, only to see a congresswoman from his own state upstage him.

Pawlenty, seemingly knowing he can't fall too far behind, has recently taken shots at Bachmann's congressional record.

I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I've campaigned for her, I respect her. But her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent, Pawlenty told NBC's Meet the Press. We're not looking for folks who just have speech capabilities. We're looking for people who can lead a large enterprise in a public setting...I've done that, she hasn't.

Candidates typically try to use good polling numbers in Iowa as a spring board to gain traction in other areas. Bachmann will certainly try to use these numbers as a way to attack Romney in other areas, particularly in his Northeast roots.