U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., addresses a gathering of supporters. The Tea Party presidential candidate is among those in Washington who has yet to bring forth consensus for plans to reduce the size of government or the budget deficit. REUTERS

While Michele Bachmann spent a large part of Tuesday contending with questions about her whether periodic migraines would inhibit her ability to govern, a substantial number of voters seem to think she's qualified for the job.

Bachmann surged into second place in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC news poll, reflecting the continued uncertainty in a field in which the only constant has been Mitt Romney's frontrunner status. Bachmann was the first choice of 16 percent of 1,000 potential Republican primary voters surveyed, up from 3 percent in June. Romney stood well above the pack at 30 percent.

That tells us one thing about this race, and that is it hasn't shaken down to its final configuration, said Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster who co-directed the poll.

President Barack Obama fared well in head to head match ups with both challengers: voters would choose Obama over Romney 48 percent to 41 percent and Obama over Bachmann 50 percent to 35 percent. But when presented simply with the question of whether they would choose Obama or a Republican voters chose Obama by a much slimmer margin, 42 percent to 39 percent.

Two-thirds of respondents also said the nation is on the wrong track, a grim indicator that likely stems in large part from a stubborn unemployment rate and a faltering U.S. economic recovery.