Huckabee’s Threat Gets More Serious

For a while, Mitt’s ground game seemed to be a thing of genius.  While Giuliani forsaked traditional retail politics in the early states, Romney was working the scenes, glad handing the locals, delivering presidential speeches out of coffee shops, and getting the job done.  It seemed to have worked, too.  Rudy’s national polling numbers may have made it seem like he was the runaway favorite, but in the primaries, national numbers don’t traditionally mean that much.  Romney had the early states, and if he could sweep those, the power of the headlines from that alone would catapult him into the nomination.

Then along came Huckabee.

Huck entered the race with the bona fides of a baptist minister and posessed that “aw shucks” charm, but no one took him seriously.  Of course, I suppose it’s reasonable for Republicans to underestimate the potential of a little known yet charming governor from Arkansas; we Dems wouldn’t make that mistake though.  Realistically, though, it’s easy to understand why he was instantly shuttled off to the cellar tier.  He lacked the star power of Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson, and he lacked the personal wealth and apparent political acumen of Mitt Romney.

But then there began a Huckabee surge and perhaps most significantly the ground troops of the Religious Right began flocking to the man who best embodied the socially conservative agenda they so desired.  I mean, come on, any man who claims that angels guide his bullet when he goes hunting?  That’s your guy.

And this is how Iowa came to fall under Huckabee’s control.  Not only did Huck’s social conservative bona fides go over with socially conservative Iowa Republicans, but his pleasing demeanor compared to a field that has been considerably vicious also likely resonated among the corn huskers.

But Mitt Romney could survive a loss in Iowa, right?  You fall to Huck in Iowa, go on to win New Hampshire and then South Carolina, and the rest of the game is in the bag.  Except, not really.  According to a new CNN poll, Huckabee has taken over South Carolina as well.

I want to say that Mike still falls short of being realistically capable of winning the nomination, but that’s no longer the case.  In fact, current polling data suggests he isn’t just a frontrunner, but the frontrunner.  This based on the fact that he has what neither Giuliani nor Mitt Romney have been able to attain.

Giuliani has always had strong national polling numbers, but no early state support, in other words, he’s hoping to weather the storm of bad or no publicity in the early rounds in the hopes that states like Florida and New York will reverse his fortunes.  Mitt, on the other hand has always had terrible polling numbers, but his early state showings were strong, hoping that the more traditional politics still applies; namely that the press and strength of early wins will change minds in later states.

Huckabee now has both.  He’s now running a close second if not tied with Rudy Giuliani in the national standings, while at the same time he’s the guy to beat in Iowa, and now South Carolina.  Further, there are no more debates with which to change public opinion, so outside of ground game tactics, we’re locked here.

Oh, and let’s remember, it was Huckabee’s ground game that got him here in the first place.

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