Here Comes Huck - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Here Comes Huck

First, here (from the Washington Examiner) is my fullest report about yesterday’s conservative reaction to Romney’s speech at CPAC.
Second, here is an absolutely firm prediction (using the sort of colloquial language Huck himself used when he’s pandering): Mike Huckabee ain’t dead yet. I predict a far stronger than “expected” showing in Virginia next Tuesday, and then a string of contests where he approaches (and occasionally exceeds) the same vote totals as McCain. He almost certainly has no shot at denying McCain the nomination, and probably can’t even force an open convention, but he will continue to pile up delegates.

Here’s why: 1) The part of the Evangelical base that is for him remains absolutely fired up about him — as do the well organized fair taxers and home schoolers. And the culturally conservative protectionists also tend to be passionate, and he’s the only protectionist left standing.

2) The anti-McCain sentiment among many Republican voters is so incredibly strong that ANY candidate who appears to be the last man standing against McCain would garner a boatload of votes. Indeed, in most states, if the Republican ballot listed two candidates, one being McCain and the other being listed merely as “Mystery Man,” McCain would still have a hard time getting more than a very small majority.

Let me elaborate a little more on that point. In most states where McCain seriously competed both in 2000 and in 2008, his raw vote count was (I believe) actually far smaller than it was in 2000. He has been “winning” only because the field has been fractured in at least three, and sometimes as many as six, ways — and with his name ID combined with his undeniable appeal to a sizable minority of the electorate, his BASE of the vote most places is high enough to keep him in the top tier even if more than two-thirds of the voters in a state can’t stand him. But McCain is far LESS popular among Republicans most places now than he was eight years ago — and where he is not less popular in raw numbers, he is far more detested by the remaining ones who don’t like him than he was detested by those same people eight years earlier. Result: Just about any mainstream Republican candidate who is in a one-on-one race vs. McCain would get nearly 50 percent of the vote by default alone, and in most cases, if no “momentum” were in play, would stomp McCain into the ground.

3) Huckabee has been playing rope-a-dope. Huck has been letting all the other candidates take on McCain directly while making nice to the Arizonan himself. In return, McCain’s moral authority (at least in many minds) has not been used to attack Huck; instead, McCain has gone after others (most particularly Romney, but also at times Giuliani and Paul) with a vengeance. Huck has benefitted from that state of affairs both directly and indirectly, most directly in West Virginia, where the McCain forces (led by former LA Gov. Buddy Roemer) saw Huck as so much of an ally that they three all their support to Huck in order to keep Romney from claiming an early Super Tuesday victory.
BUT, and this is a key point, Huckabee’s people have been licking their chops at the chance to go against McCain one-on-one. (I have this on good authority.) They understand the dynamics of points 1 and 2 above, and they also know that McCain has been pounded even more by conservative talk radio than Huck has — and that the vitriol from “full spectrum” conservatives against McCain runs far deeper than that against Huck, mainly because it has had so much more time to grow and fester. All Huck need to do is drop a few clever one-liners, without even a full frontal assault, and he can effectively undermine a great deal of McCain’s raison d’etre.

All of which is to say that Huck is poised and ready for a real (to employ a much-overused word these days) surge in support. He’ll actually rack up some outright victories, and position himself even more strongly as a Veep choice.

And McCain, who just doesn’t understand or appreciate real conservatives, may well be dumb enough to choose him. And in so doing, seal his own doom in the general election (for reasons that I will have plenty of time on which to elaborate later on).

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