Huckabee’s One Hit Wonder

Recently, Mitt Romney labeled Huckabee a “one hit wonder.” By all accounts that appears to be how things are shaping up. Gaining no momentum from his Iowa win going into New Hampshire and losing momentum to McCain after a distant third place finish there, Huckabee has little chance of winning another contest. Huckabee’s Evangelical support will not change up or down; it will consistently float around 60% of Evangelicals who make-up 33% of the GOP nationally. To be specific, that is about 20%. Huckabee claims he can branch out to other GOP voters, but his debate performance in South Carolina did not help at doing that. He made no attempt to broaden his support; rather, he continued to focus on preaching to Evangelical voters. Some states that have higher percentages of Evangelicals will increase his chances of a win, as was the case in Iowa. However, this will not be enough to beat Romney, Giuliani, or McCain in the states leading up to Super Tuesday, nor to win that day either. Huckabee will lose Michigan to McCain and/or Romney, he will lose Nevada to Romney and/or Guiliani, he will lose South Carolina to McCain, he will lose Florida to Giuliani and/or McCain and possible Romney as well. As for Super Tuesday, while Huckabee may win a state (like Georgia) here and there, he will lose the day.

With the majority of Evangelicals wasting their support on a candidate that does not appeal to the Republican core, McCain has the best chance to win the nomination—at this point in the game anyway. McCain will be tough to beat in Michigan for Romney, thanks to democrats and independents who make up about 50% of those who will be voting in the GOP primary. Like in 2000 it is probable that they will turn out in support for McCain. If McCain wins Michigan, even an unforeseen loss in South Carolina will do little to stop him gaining enough support to get the nomination. His national momentum has really taken off after NH; and frankly, there are more McCain loyalists than those who subscribe to the Evangelical voting bloc. Huckabee will stick around through the remainder of the race as his support is unlikely to abandon him to the bitter end no matter how bleak his chances are.

It looks like what they say is true: there were three tickets out of Iowa: Huckabee, Romney and McCain got them. There were two tickets out of New Hampshire: McCain and Romney got them. The battle for the nomination is now between McCain and Romney. We will soon find out if Giuliani’s “big state strategy” will defy this heuristic and give him a pass though the early states and put him back into contention—I, like may others, doubt it!

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