Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Huck Pulls Even with Rudy, according to Rasmussen. He’s also running even with Hillary. Dean Barnett’s explanation of Huck’s surge: He’s the best politician in the land. Dean adds: His campaign is easily in the best shape. Any of the other candidates would glady trade places with him at this point.

Discussions - 27 Comments

When McCain leaves the race, is there polling that indicates which way his supporters will go, towards Huckabee or Giuliani. I think we're already at a 2 man race. I think the Romney campaign is a beat horse, being whipped around the backstretch by a wide-eyed, frenzied jockey.

Huckabee appears to be more than a fad. Hewitt is in a panic, and keeps challenging Huckabee to appear on his radio show, which Huckabee wisely ignores. It looks like some social cons have picked Huckabee. Romney, especially Hewitt, are in a lather throwing everything they can at Huckabee. Columnists are piling on as well, George Will just the other day. If Huckabee weathers this recent flurry of blows, if he guts it out for just another week or two, it looks like Huckabee v. Giuliani.

But Giuliani has his problems too. He's embarked on a most unconventional strategy. And if he pulls it out, it will be studied for a long, long time.

Thompson blew it. Conservatives were just dying for someone to rally behind, and Thompson wasted all of their enthusiasm. What a golden opportunity, and all wasted.

McCain keeps telling people that he "gets it" about immigration. People believe him about as much as they believe Romney on abortion and other social issues.

McCain and Romney have similar problems, on KEY issues that go to the core of our party, nobody places any faith in what they have to say.

Which leaves us a Huckabee and Giuliani showdown.

Who'd a thunk it?

And the whole thing is so front loaded that it should be decided early.

I think it was a writer at NRO suggesting a wide-open Republican field, and that we might see a brokered convention. But that all depends on Huckabee being whittled down to size. And we should know whether Huckabee can weather the storm in about 2 weeks. If his numbers don't turn south, we'll know then.

As I mentioned in a previous post (or comment, I forget which), the good news for Huckabee, the silver lining of the dark cloud of little money and hence little name recognition, was that his then low but rising polls #s would probably continue to go up precisely b/c the more people learned about him the more they would like him (and then shift from "Undecided" to supporter of Huckabee).

More money has now come in, and continues to come in, all to the good. But even if it does not reach Clintonesque levels, what we probably are witnessing here is a bonafide grassroots campaign, which means money--though necessary--will not be as important as folks like Hugh Hewitt or his ilk predicted a few weeks ago.

Rich Lowry over at NRO has a post about Clinton appearing in panic. Imagine the general election where it was Obama vs. Huckabee. Given the issues and troubles of the world, having it come down to these two would be truly disconcerting.

Ditto Comment 2. People talk about the battle for Iowa. Can Romney's hired staff really have the drive of Huckabee's volunteers. I highly doubt it.

A lot of people like chili cheese fries and deep-fried Twinkies, too.
Does market success prove merit? 4: Clint, about "the drive of Huckabee's volunteers" -- it remains to be seen. "Easy come, easy go" is a pretty fair rule in politics, seems to me. The Huck surge strikes me as fast and shallow. It boils down to: "I want a real Christian" or "I want a populist."
These are non-political attitudes, and my guess is that those who are immersed in them will not go the extra mile. Romney has tons of money, which is nothing to sneeze at. And if his volunteers are Mormons, especially young, former Mormon missionaries, they will work harder, are more reliable, and are probably smarter. Provided they're from in-state, which I would guess they are, they will deliver a better caucus performance for Romney than most people expect.

Huck in person is just a tremendous politician. It is more than likely he has staying power. Even Peter may underrate how our jovial and witty evangelical might do in the Fall with our dour and frank Coriolanus by his side. My impression, like Peter's, is that Giuliani is fading as a choice for conservatives who want to win in November. Part of it also may be a sense of the emerging weaknesses of both Clinton and Obama.

"Deep fried twinkies....?"

Now that's just begging to be overweight.

David: I'm pretty sure the facts will bear out and prove you wrong. Do you seriously think the evangelical vote is petty and "easy come easy go." I doubt there are many mormons in Iowa, and everyone knows that you can't hire your way to quality workers in politics. The Bush campaign was fed by volunteers. Kerry thwarted the Dean machine in Iowa in three weeks. Do you seriously argue that a home-schooling family and their children are less valuable workers than half a dozen hired political hacks like Mitt has? If so, I hope my first campaign is against you. I know who supports Huck and they will turn out. Even if Romney has the dedicated workers, they won't be able to turn out his soft support with the campaign flagging. Nor will the energy be there at the causcus and they will easily be led down the more virtuous path of Huckabee.

I have no idea what you're saying with "in-state." The "in-state" electorate in Iowa is 40% evangelical and what? 1/2% mormon??? I think you're support of Romney has blurred your view a little, but I admire you sticking by him.

Two more things that I think a lot of people are missing:

1. The evangelical voter might only be 20% of the GOP electorate but they make up 75% of the energy. Energy, passion, and work is what wins campaigns. Also Evangelicals, as one of the last groups that still study great works of literature in depth-i.e. the Bible, have a rhetorical and maybe an intellectual advantage, even more so than Mormons. The Bible is earthy, allegorical, powerful, and so too are evangelical arguments and plees.

2. Huckabee appeals to far more than just hard-core evangelicals. I live and am immersed in an extremely secular environment right now, and Huckabee gets the best reviews of all Republicans. Everyone likes Huck and thinks he is a genuine, well-spoken guy, who would govern America well. Anyone who thinks that Huck can't expand past the evangelical voter is off base.

The mentality that craves a Mike Huckabee is the opposite of the mentality that will turn out in 25-degree weather for an Iowa caucus and hang around for 2 to 3 hours. These are events for politically serious people. Huckabee is not a politically serious man, and although he undoubtedly has the support of some politically serious people now, I would bet that the bulk of his support can be blown hither and yon. They may know the prinicples of anti-abortion, anti-Mormonism, and anti-Washington, but Huckabee's moderatism undermines his appeal as a cultural messenger or symbol. This is NOTA support ("none of the above") and that doesn't make for political energy. As for Romney's forces, I'm talking about Mormon volunteers, not paid people. Although paid people are handy for directing the volunteers and other tasks. To suggest that they can't be effective because there aren't enough Mormons in Iowa is to make a lot of assumptions. My own guess is that there isn't enough anti-Mormon prejudice in Iowa to radically alter the outcome of the statewide caucus results.

9: Clint, many Iowa evangelicals are for other candidates than Huckabee, so your point, even if true, is irrelevant. And your testimony, from an "extremely secular environment," that "everyone likes Huck" actually undermines the case for a strong Huckabee candidacy within the
GOP. Candidates can become popular among the base and, simultaneously, among liberals. But it doesn't last for long. Something has to give. In the unlikely event Huck is nominated, he may well be more popular with Dems on election day than Rudy or Romney or any other Republican would be. But they won't vote for him, not this year.

8: Clint, I'm not for Romney. I lean toward Rudy. But I am absolutely anti-Huck. It would be fine to vote against Romney for several reasons, including fear that a Mormon just can't win the White House. To reject him on religious rather than political grounds, however, would not be fine. It would be a disgraceful repudiation of the American way. Mormons are not alien to America. In many ways, the are America at its best. It's also clear that, whether Mormonism is genuinely Christian or not, it certainly grows out of Christianity.
We can call it a heresy if we want. But a heretic isn't necessarily alien to our civilization. Romney shows every sign of wanting to maintain our civilization. He is best attacked on the grounds of inability to do the job, intellectual shallowness, flip flops, and relative inexperience. Jonah Goldberg had a good line today: that Mitt has a "yacht-salesman demeanor." All of that's fair game. Mormonism -- except as a political minus -- isn't.

David, I worked for the Bush campaign in Ohio in 2004, so I think I have a little experiance when it comes to what makes a effective grassroots political campaign. Evangelicals and social conservatives were 60% to 70% of our ground force in Ohio all across the state. These people are very serious about politics, and they are die hards that will do anything for a candidate they belive in. While I haven't observed the Huckabee ground game first hand, I imagine it is powered by the type people who would come to our campaign offices every night for weeks on end making phone call after phone call. Huckabee has captured the imagination of these kind of folks. Believe me when the votes are counted in Iowa on caucus night the big story will be how Huckabee marshelled the social conservative grassroots network to engineer his victory.

Ditto Jamie, every GOP campaign I've volunteered in is fueled by evangelicals. (Every GOP operative, even in more secular state in Iowa, relies on them) David and others might see news articles about money and imagine other things, but the people working the call centers, walking door-to-door, all the dirty work are the same ones I think who are doing anything they can for Huckabee right now. If this is true Huck will have a huge intensity advantage in IA.

The fact that Huck is popular with some liberals as well speaks to his genuiness. Certainly something will give in 2008, but many independents will vote for Huck next November because he can package a conservative message in a principled and likeable way. I suppose, David, you would say the "Reagan Democrat" was a mirage or a sign of Reagan's lack of seriousness and principle? Huckabee is riding the Reagan trajectory right now-to the top!

The good news is that IA is less than a month away and a little proof will be put to this talk.

A new LA times national poll out with Rudy @ 23, Huck @ 17 and Romney @ 9. Romney has never really had a real chance and it's all imploding. After he says weird stuff Thursday, it should be over.

Did anyone see this dandy? Romney fires his landscape crew today. It's just another example of poor and weak politics and a complete unwillingness to take responsibility for himself. Romney caves to expediency faster than Bill Clinton at the first sight of a pretty girl.

Man, this sites comments section is just crawling with people craving amnesty.

David Frisk - Clint, I'm not for Romney. I lean toward Rudy.

In Gods name, why? Bill Clinton was not liberal enough for you?

Jamie says: Huckabee has captured the imagination of these kind of folks. Believe me when the votes are counted in Iowa on caucus night the big story will be how Huckabee marshelled (sic) the social conservative grassroots network to engineer his victory. And that's all great . . . it may (though I still doubt it) win him the nomination. My question is how will that translate into getting more votes than the Democrat in November? Really motivated conservative evangelicals are an important part of a conservative coalition, but alone they're not enough to move a general election (at least in the right direction). Clint points to Huck's appeal to "some liberals"--which doesn't surprise me when you consider Huck's ever so slight totalitarian impulse (e.g., smoking bans, you really should try my great diet!, his support for in-state tuition for the children of illegals etc.) Liberals would like these things about him. They understand that kind of evangelical zeal to force the good. The kind of liberals that like Huck are not the "Reagan Democrats" of yore. They aren't the tough-minded, hard working, socially conservative by habit Democrats who remained Democrat more out of another habit born of respect for the nobility of their blue collar background than out of true belief in big-L Liberalism. The problem for Clint is that the kind of liberal who is disposed to like Mike Huckabee won't need Mike Huckabee in November. He'll have Hillary. And she'll be more in line with his views on the war and a myriad of other issues. Further, she's even more school-marmish and evangelical in that way than Huck. She'll wag that finger without fear of being chastened by calls for liberty from the back-benchers in her party.

13: Jamie, I don't deny that evangelicals can be good campaign workers. But you're making an apples-and-oranges comparison. The vast majority of serious evangelicals supported Bush in '04. This year, for the GOP nomination, there is more of a split. In addition, evangelical support for Bush in '04 was very solidly based. It was rooted; Bush had a history as president by that time. The kind of people who are getting swept up by Huckabee are less likely to be serious. If they deliver for him in Iowa to the extent being predicted, I'll admit it. But I won't be automatically persuaded, just because Huckabee wins narrowly in Iowa (as he might well do), that evangelical volunteers were the ones who made it happen. 14: Clint, any but the narrowest comparisons between Huckabee and Reagan, or between pro-Huckabee (they think) Democrats and Reagan Democrats in terms of motivation, is historically illiterate. I would suggest that you drop it unless you like being laughed at.

17: John, about your attempt to read my mind, I can only say that it couldn't be more wrong. Substantively, all in all, I believe Rudy may be the most conservative major candidate in the field in terms of his likely impact in the presidency -- except Thompson, whom I have tentatively decided cannot win the general election.

David: I'll let the votes talk to you since you just don't get it, and can only laugh and talk philosophy while letting practical politics pass you by.

They aren't the tough-minded, hard working, socially conservative by habit Democrats who remained Democrat more out of another habit born of respect for the nobility of their blue collar background than out of true belief in big-L Liberalism.

Julie, since you actually made an argument, unlike David, allow me to explain. You are right that they are not the same Democrats, but this is not 1980. The people you describe in the above passage are now majority Republican anyway. These people across the South and Midwest have mostly switched parties. Despite this switch, other liberal movements in the past 25 years have kept the Republicans from a majority. We have the old Reagan Democrats is our back pocket (unless we have a hopeless candidate). What Huck does so well is solidify the evangelical and Reagan Democrat (these are now our GOP base) and then, as Reagan did, offer something to today's independent and liberal that will make him electable. A GOPer can't win with exactly the same type of "Reagan democrat," but he can win with the same strategy of appealing to a sement of democratic voter. I think that Huck is appealing to that right segment, the religious democrat, and he just might convince them that conservatism is a good thing just as Reagan turned his Democratic group into Republicans!

Clint, I'm glad you and I agree that the liberals who like Huck are not the same thing as the Reagan Democrats. I am not sure that I agree with you, however, that we've got the Reagan Democrats "in our back pocket." If that were the case, would we really have a problem? If Reagan's additions to the GOP were permanent, then who has left the GOP in the meantime? Because we don't have a clear majority. By your reasoning, we should. Your concession that the liberals Huck appeals to are a whole different group worries me that he won't be able to keep the base together. When Reagan appealed to the "Reagan Democrats" he did it with principles the base shared. I don't want the GOP to appeal to evangelical liberals by seeming to be the best vehicle for an active advance of their agenda. I'll take their votes if they finally come around to see that their moral principles are better served by a smaller government and more trust for the people. But I don't want to use big government to advance their moral principles--or force the good. In order to appeal to evangelical liberals, the GOP has to change its principles. I think that in appealing to them, Huck is in danger of repulsing a good chunk of the base.

The GOP of 1970's and 1980 when Reagan rose to power was a party of the wealthy and the higher level or white collar middle class. Blue collar workers-hard working good conservative people were still voting Democrat. Reagan appealed to these people. In the past 25 years the GOP has continued to appeal to this blue collar/lower middle class segment, and with the election of Bush some think we may have even a (near) majority of union voters. Needless to say blue collar workers who haven't been coopted by unions are more Republican.

My point about Reagan Democrats was merely to refute the idea that a candidate cannot permanently appeal to multiple parties and even idealogies.

You ask what group has the GOP lost. The answer is the wealthy and high middle class. These people were very Republican 25 years ago, and are about even. This gives us a numerical advantage over the 70s/80s (see our better electoral standing) but has by shifting some votes and lots of money to the Democratic side, left us well short of a majority. If you go through old Democratic towns, the low middle class Reagan Democrat is now a solid GOP voter (at least in Presidential elections which is our issue).

Huckabee can easily enough hold the party together. He knows that active government is necessary in some areas (health, morals, and public welfare) but that we can cut government intrusion into our economic life. You say that their moral principles are better served by a smaller government and more trust for the people. I correct you one way-changing your last word to God. This is of course where some must agree to disagree, but it creates a unifying principle that Huckabee can appeal to liberals on. And with the way Huckabee talks about God, Government, and Natural Rights, I am confident that he can make the most liberal people understand our common moral principles.

Lastly there is this odd notion that Huckabee wants government to control everything. This makes no sense. Huckabee was raised in rural Arkansas in a low income family at a time when everyone was a Democrat. Yet at 18 he was a Republican who had rejected the wealth redistribution of the Democratic party, and believed in the founding principle that a man should have the opportunity to work for what he received, no more. This is the Huckabee that I see, and it is one who can hold together conservatives, but do it in a way that appeals to those who think they are liberals. Along the way I expect a few of those liberals will find out they are really conservatives, just like the Reagan Democrats realized.

I think you assumption that the evangelicals are split is faulty. In Iowa for sure and increasingly around the country, they are lining up behind Huckabee. Just because the "leaders" are endorsing Romney, Rudy, and Thompson does not mean that the real people who volunteer, vote, and win elections are not split. They are choosing Huckabee, and they will propel him to a 3-5% victory over Romney in Iowa, and then a victories in South Carolina and Florida. After the media spotlight focuses on just Rudy and Huckabee it will be obvious who is the better candidate.

By the way, once Huckabee is the nominee he will make peace with the Wall Street Journal crowd because they know he is much better than Hillary. They will actually realize he is not a liberal, and he believes in the 10th admendment and limited government.

Clint and Jamie,

The one thing I haven't read either of you mention is the financing situation...Huckabee simply doesn't have the money to win this primary.

Utility costs and phone banks don't pay for themselves. Neither does literature or campaign advertisements.
Simple internet grassroots isn't going to cut it.

Unless you're going to tell me Huckabee is going to win Iowa and people will then start opening up their wallets to his campaign, he is toast!

As for Huckabee being a big believer in Natural Rights...that is hogwash! Please show me how,except for his anti-abortion stance, Huckabee puts a respect for Natural Rights into practice.

This Video on Huckabee is a clearer explanation of natural rights than any other candidate can deliver.

As for fundraising, Huckabee has raised $3.5 million the last two months, and I'd say he is on track to raise about $6 million this quarter. While not the self-funded warchest of Romney, this is certainly enough to continue the battle. Also you can never underestimate how word spreads across evangelical and conservative groups without money. Huck'll be just fine.

This poll shows Huckabee with a big lead in North Carolina!

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