Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has vaulted over all major GOP challengers to take a commanding lead in the race to win the Iowa caucuses, while Barack Obama continues to edge ahead of Hillary Clinton among Democrats likely to participate. This is according to a new NEWSWEEK poll.
The most dramatic result to come from the telephone based interview based on 1,408 registered Iowa voters on Dec. 5 and 6, is Huckabee’s emergence from no-wheres-ville in the GOP race into the front runner’s spot in just two months. Huckabee is an ordained Southern Baptist minister and now leads Romney by a two-to-one margin (told you the Mormon thing would kill him in the end), 39 percent to 17 percent, among likely GOP caucus-goers. In the last NEWSWEEK survey, conducted Sept. 26-27, Huckabee polled a only 6 percent to Romney’s 25 percent, which then led the field.
Huckabee has also opened up a wide margin over the next three leading candidates, who all show signs of fading like cheap paint in the Arizona sun. Rudy Giuliani, who dropped from 15 percent in the last survey to 9 percent in the current one; Fred Thompson, who fell from 16 percent to 10 percent; and John McCain, who slipped from 7 percent to 6 percent, are all looking up at Huckabee now.
The poll, which has an overall margin of error of 3 percent, also indicated that on the Republican as well as the Democratic side Iowa is increasingly becoming a two-person race. Among likely GOP caucus-goers, 57 percent name Huckabee as their first or second choice and 39 percent give Romney as their first or second choice. On this measure, Thompson is a distant third, with just 20 percent.
“You rarely see anything like Huckabee’s surge,” says Larry Hugick, who directed the polling for Princeton Survey Research Associates. Hugick added that the reason has as much to do with a leeriness of the other candidates among Republican voters as Huckabee’s folksy success on the stump. “He’s filling a vacuum,” Hugick said. “Nobody on the Republican side was getting strong support.”
Say what you will but Huckabee comes off genuine and articulate. I’ve blogged about this recently here…
Sure he might be construed as another Christian fundamentalist nut, but he’s a likeable Christian fundamentalist nut…and that may be enough in Iowa.
What people don’t seem to wrap their mind around is that America is thirsty for honesty from a President in any form, even if that President has some weird baggage. While evangelicals are carrying Huckabee in Iowa, it is the other 50% of plain old Republicans that are putting him over the top! Why? Because Romney looks too slick (and he’s a Mormon), Giuliani looks too much like Bush (wrong answer there), McCain is just plain crazy, and Thompson talks like he is just plain stupid.
The best analogy I can come up for Huckabee is that he’s Reagan, only holding a really big cross, like those guys who shout bible verses at you downtown on a Wednesday afternoon. Iowa voters appear to be willing to take the chance he won’t impale us on it.
Who would have thunk it?