Hugh Hewitt hasn’t given up altogether, but seems to think that Huckabee’s past and future role can only be to make things harder for his man Romney. Ramesh Ponnuru makes a version of this argument in drawing a parallel with 1996--Huckabee is Pat Buchanan made young and beautiful, taking out Romney, who is Phil Gramm made young and beautiful.
I guess I don’t buy the argument that Huckabee’s presence in the race hurt Romney, because I’m not convinced that the folks who voted or will still vote for Mike would have, in his absence, voted for Mitt. Part of the reason for this, I’ve already noted: there are evangelicals who have a hard time elevating a Mormon to the highest political office in the land. But there are also these three additional considerations. First, Romney seems a little less solid on pro-life issues than is McCain. The latter hasn’t flip-flopped on the subject, and doesn’t give the appearance of taking positions in order to position himself for various constituencies. Second, a lot of evangelicals are very serious about our conflict with jihadism, regarding it as both a matter of national security and a civilizational challenge. McCain the warrior-president fits this part of their "worldview" better than does Romney the manager-president. Third, note that Huckabee’s voters are younger than either Romney’s or McCain’s. As I’ve noted before, younger evangelicals tend to have a broader range of policy concerns than their elders. This doesn’t mean (as some commentators have suggested) that they’ll trade a congenial position on global AIDS relief, human trafficking, or the environment for a less congenial position on abortion, just that they’re not natural constituents of a more or less classic business Republican. Absent Huckabee, they don’t all naturally gravitate toward Romney.
Changing the subject, I liked this NRO symposium, especially for its suggestions about how McCain and his conservative critics could arrive at a modus vivendi. I have at least one quibble, however: McCain does need a running mate that conservatives find congenial, but not the aged Hamlet Fred Thompson. A big risk with McCain at the head of the ticket and a similarly "experienced" running mate is that Republicans will lose touch with younger voters who, if they get into the habit, will vote the "wrong" way for a long time.
Dean Barnett makes the argument that the GOP has become somewhat like the Democrats--a coalition of narrowish interests that finds unity only in everyone’s dislike of the other party. Romney’s problem, in his view, is that, in trying to please everyone, he didn’t effectively energize any constituency in particular.