Huckabee Flirts With A Run

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 5 2015 @ 9:40am

Huckabee Evangelicals

This is big news for the 2016 race. But Huckabee is gonna need to raise some serious cash:

“You’re going to need $150 million to win the nomination, and probably $75 million to get you through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Ed Rollins, a former Huckabee adviser, said in an interview. “That means 200 to 300 fundraising events and a vast, focused apparatus. Mike didn’t have that last time, and he still has to prove he can develop one.”

Aaron Blake, who posts the above chart, focuses on Huckabee’s Evangelical support in 2008:

In all but eight of these states, Huckabee’s showing was within single digits of the evangelical population — or better. Now, does that mean Huckabee has a chance to win or will carry these states in 2016? Not necessarily. His devoted base is both a ticket to the dance and the reason he’ll struggle to win the nomination. There quite simply aren’t enough evangelicals out there. In fact, there is no state outside the South and the lower Midwest that is more than one-quarter evangelical.

Weigel also eyes the Evangelical vote:

In current polls, Huckabee earns roughly three times as much Iowa Republican support as Santorum. In conversations Saturday night, even strategists who planned to work for other candidates called Huckabee the Iowa frontrunner.

They also argued that he was weaker than he’d been in 2008. The likely 2016 field would be more competitive than 2008’s, when Huckabee only had to get past the somnolent Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney, who spent heavily in Iowa but struggled to win over voters skeptical of his Mormonism and past pro-choice views.

Paul Mirengoff takes Huck seriously:

In my opinion, none of the candidates most widely discussed as a possible GOP standard bearer has demonstrated people-to-people political skills that match Huckabee’s. And his popularity among among evangelical voters, which probably has grown since 2008, is enough to make him seem formidable.

Huckabee would become the instant favorite in Iowa, where he won the caucus in 2008. And as the Iowa caucus winner, Huckabee would automatically become a first-tier candidate. If he could then win in South Carolina, not an impossibility, he might become the front-runner.

James Antle III considers how he’ll impacts the rest of the field:

Perhaps Huckabee can top his 2008 showing. If Jeb Bush runs but Chris Christie proves more durable than Giuliani, Huckabee may be positioned to win more states with 25 to 30 percent of the vote. That probably wouldn’t suffice for the nomination by itself, but it could buy him more time to broaden his base.

The likelier scenario is that if Huckabee is once again the evangelical candidate, he will prevent other conservatives with non-evangelical appeal—and probably more money and better organizations—from gaining steam.

Which is why Peter Spiliakos thinks Huckabee has “a target on his back”:

I don’t see any path for a Republican populist that does not include a very large share of the conservative evangelical vote. If Huckabee dominates among conservative evangelicals, there is no room for a Ted Cruz or a Rick Santorum and much less room for Rand Paul to improve on his father’s 2012 performance. In order for these alternative candidates to have a chance, they would have to break apart Huckabee as a viable candidate (Rand Paul has already started). If they can’t do that, they don’t have anything. Those are the incentives

Larison is puzzled by the run:

Huckabee is vaguely populist on economics in affect if not on policy, and that causes pro-corporate Republicans to break out in hives. He openly dislikes libertarians, and the feeling is mutual. Though he does his best to take hard-line positions on most foreign policy issues, he doesn’t offer the hard-liners anything they can’t already get from someone else, and he has no foreign policy experience worth mentioning. As an evangelical and former preacher, Huckabee also clashes culturally with much of the party’s donor and pundit class. Last time, many movement conservatives could barely conceal their contempt for Huckabee’s background, and I imagine this time around there will be no attempt to conceal it. Huckabee is in for a bruising, and unrewarding presidential campaign. It makes no sense why he would want to do this.

And Rich Lowry sees this as potentially good news for Jeb:

We’ll see if the Republican field lines up as you would conventionally expect it to, with Jeb dominating the establishment slot. If it does, the early handicapping has to be that every candidate who gets in on the right, fracturing that part of the field, marginally helps the former Florida governor.