Huckabee finishes 2nd in Ames. Is he now viable?

The Washington Post is reporting that Romney won the Ames Straw Poll and that Huckabee came in second. Here’s the list:

  1. Romney
  2. Huckabee
  3. Brownback
  4. Tancredo
  5. Paul
  6. Tommy Thompson (not to be confused with Fred)

I consider myself surprised by Huckabee’s strong showing. He’s strong on the stump, it’s true, but I had through the money Brownback had thrown into it would have made him the strong #2.

With McCain, Giuliani, and Fred Thompson not competing the question then becomes whether this is enough to give Huckabee a real push into the top tier of candidates. Will it mean a long-term bump in donations and media time and maybe get him some media-darling weeks to increase his public awareness?

On the other end of the polls I’d say this likely spells the end for Tommy Thompson and Ron Paul. Brownback finished strong enough to keep trying and I figure Tancredo won’t stop his crusade until he’s forced out.

Here’s a longer analysis from the Post.

What say ye, dopers?

Well, Huckabee certainly has his bona fides with the religious right, unlike Giuliani, McCain, Romney (Mormonism just isn’t going to cut it with those folks), or even Fred Thompson (who seems to be something of a lapsed Protestant).

And, as you say, he is a good stump speaker, and comes across as genuine. He even performed smoothly (and with considerable charm) on The Daily Show.

Huckabee has been my dark horse among the Republicans for a while. I would not be at all surprised to see him make a strong run. Moreover, I fear he would be the most difficult candidate for the Democrats to defeat. I believe against Hillary he could easily hold serve in the deep South, and probably take Florida and Missouri. West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania would be in play.

Oh like the governor of Arkansas would ever be elected as the President of the United States of America. :stuck_out_tongue:

I know you meant that to be funny but that’s GOT to be a part of Huckabee’s draw. Having Clinton come out of nowhere to win in 1992 is only paving the way for him to be considered as someone who could win.

I don’t know if finishing second in a race against only one of the front-runners is really that impressive. Or to put it another way, being able to beat Brownback is not exactly the shining gate to the White House.

Given the lackluster field as a whole I admit it’s possible that this could give Huckabee momentum in the long run…but given the lackluster field as a whole, darn near anything is possible in the long run. Betting on anything (except maybe betting against Ron Paul or, thank God, against Tancredo) is a sucker’s bet.

And they have a ready made slogan in “I heart Huckabee”.

If it weren’t for Perot and Bush splitting the conservative vote Clinton would have gotten routed. Clinton really got lucky. He only got the Democratic nomination because no other big name wanted it because they thought Bush would win in a landslide.

Romney is going to win the Republican nomination, and he will wrap it up very quickly.

Yeah, Huckabee gives a good first impression. Seems to me like more of a genuinely nice guy than the visibly plastic opportunists (Romney, Brownback, et al.) that often try to get the religious right vote. Of course, maybe he’s just a much better liar. I wonder if this will be a blip, though. I don’t feel sure Huckabee’s really grounded in the foreign policy stuff.

Well, if the GOP fall in line behind a moneybags who can barely pretend to be One of the Faithful, then they’re nothing but empty-headed plutocrats.

Honestly, where does Mr. Blow-Dry get all the money? Is the Mormon Church bankrolling him with tithe money? Is it his, saved from previous campaigns? This guy’s a blatant flip-flopper with no credibility–not with anyone, certainly not the Right. McCain, whatever people’s beefs with him, makes more sense.

Nonsense. I’ve cited this in the past; Clinton would 90% have won even without Perot running.

This is probably not nonsense. Not to say that Clinton could not have won the nomination anyway; just that his path was easier.

Based on his trampling of the Brownbacks and Tancredos of the world? We’ll see. I place no faith at all, whatsoever, in any way, shape, or form in a straw poll in Ames over six months before the caucuses.

That isn’t what I understood the exit polls to support: those that voted for Perot pretty much split down the middle in who they said they would have voted for without him in the race: he drew mostly independents, not partisans. It’s also notable that a decent number of Perot voters said that they wouldn’t have voted at all without him in the race.

This analysis suggests that Clinton still would have won the electoral college even without Perot, though it would have been very close:

There were also plenty of stories on these exit poll results in the papers at the time, though I can’t find any online cites, a NYTimes report was discussed here:
Note that at least according to the data quoted there, Perot voters were ever so slightly more likely to say that they would have supported CLINTON(38%) than Bush(37%). Hardly a “splitting of the conservative vote” at least by that data (and that’s pretty much the best and only data we have on what “would have” happened)

You might still reasonably maintain that Bush would have won without Perot (after all, who knows how accurate people’s claims about what they “would have done” are), but given the exit polls I remember, there’s no way you could support the idea that it would have been a rout. Amongst poli sci people I know, the idea that Clinton owed his win to Perot is seen as something of an exercise in Republican wound-licking and wishful thinking rather than your claimed obvious truism. It’s one of those things that gets repeated over and over on talk radio.

Who do you think is likely to drop out at this point, aside from Tommy Thompson (who still managed to beat Fred Thompson, who had a fairly impressive showing for not even trying)? I doubt Brownback will be cowed, though this is sort of disappointment for him. Paul is a true believer: I don’t see him folding up shop no matter what. Tancredo I don’t know: he also is perhaps in this more to keep immigration at the fore than anything else so he might stick around just for that. I don’t see this as reducing the field by much, which is sort of disappointing in a way.

Interestingly, while neither Guiliani nor McCain tried, Guiliani still managed to place higher than Duncan Hunter, whose only claim to fame was that he announced before anyone else. McCain, however, did not: that can’t be a good sign for him. Who is John Cox again? If he’s smart, we’ll never know.

I’ve never been able to figure out why Huckabee isn’t in the top tier. He has the appeal to the evangelicals that all of the top candidates lack, but he doesn’t appear to be a nutbar on the level of Brownback. He comes off as extremely likable, and has a great story of triumph over adversity with his dramatic weight loss. I wouldn’t vote for him, but he seems like just what the GOP needs.

I think someone other than the current top four will get the nomination. Evangelicals are starting to make noise against Romney, both for his Mormonism and his past support of abortion. McCain has jumped the shark, Rudy’s slime trail is getting hard to ignore, and Fred Thompson is turning out to be less that meets the eye. Somebody has to fill that void, and the people waiting in the wings to join the race aren’t much better. (Newt? Please.) Might as well be Huckabee.

I think he is very much viable. The righties hate McCain with a passion, Guiliani is not on their side on social issues, and Romney is Johnny-come-lately to their side. Where else are they going to go? I look for Huckabee to start a strong move right now.

Here’s the final vote totals:

  1. Romney: 4516 (31.5)
  2. Huckabee: 2587 (18.1)
  3. Brownback: 2192 (15.3)
  4. Tancredo: 1961 (13.7)
  5. Paul: 1305 (9.1)
  6. T. Thompson: 1039 (7.3)
  7. F. Thompson: 203 (1.4)
  8. Giuliani: 183 (1.3)
  9. Hunter: 174 (1.2)
  10. McCain: 101 (1)
  11. Cox: 41 (.1)

Source: The Washington Post

I agree that Tommy Thompson is done. That announcement shouldn’t take very long. Paul getting 9% is a big jump ahead of the 1-2% he polls nationally so that might give him impetus to stay in for a bit…same for Tancredo. Brownback is a wildcard…it sure looks like Huckabee and he are trying to appeal to the same base and Huckabee did it better and he only spent (reportedly) $150,000 in Iowa to beat Brownback.

Ohw much did they each spend on this poll? It would be interesting to see how many of the voters were paid for by each of the campaigns and how many were independent.

Considering Guiliani and McCain didn’t even bother with the Iowa straw poll, I wonder if this is a true indication of things to come. I’m withholding judgment for now, but I’m glad to see Huckabee make such a strong showing. I’m just not sure it means anything, other than psychologically.

Here’s what I could find quickly concerning $$$/vote

Romney: c. $440/vote (estimate. He hasn’t released numbers)
Brownback: $148.27/vote
Huckabee: $58/vote

The USAToday blog there is all about how Huckabee’s the big winner here. But that’s classic ‘need something to make it dramatic’ chattering class work, there.

Newt Gingrich gave some strong support to Huckabee at a recent speech at the National Press Club. This may have helped Huckabee pick up some votes.

I think we should take a moment to pity poor John McCain. OK, that’s enough…