Nate Silver noted yesterday that Mike Huckabee’s decision not to run for president “may be the most consequential event of the Republican primary campaign so far.” That may sound a little hyperbolic, but it’s actually a compelling point.

For example, Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller ran a hard-hitting piece on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), of all people, shining a light on “a slew of questionable votes and decisions, including on earmarks, pardons and farm subsidies.”

Bachmann’s penchant for earmarks dates back to her days in the Minnesota state Senate. Despite her reputation as a fiscal conservative, from 2001-2006, then-state Senator Bachmann proposed more than $60 million in earmarks, including a $710,000 “Bond For Centerville Local Improvements Around Highway 14″ and a $40,000,000 “Bond for Lino Lakes And Columbus Township Highway Interchanges.” […]

[S]ince joining the U.S. Congress in 2007, Bachmann has appropriated more than $3.7 million in earmarks. What is more, when Republicans sought an earmark moratorium, Bachmann pushed to exclude transportation projects from the ban.

Bachmann may also be plagued by her involvement in a controversial pardon….

Now, the substance of this is fairly interesting and would likely be explored in detail if Bachmann actually goes through with a ridiculous national campaign.

But stepping back, it’s far more interesting that the Daily Caller report ran in the first place. It’s unclear if the news site dug all of this up on its own, or whether a rival campaign packaged some opposition research and shopped it around. I’m guessing the latter, but either way, the only reason to bother with a piece like this one is if someone considers Bachmann’s potential campaign worth thinking about.

And the only reason to consider Bachmann’s potential campaign worth thinking about is her chances in Iowa, which appear credible in light of Huckabee’s departure.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.