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Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Vote for Mike Huckabee is a Vote for Rudy Giuliani

Yes my friends, a vote for Mike Huckabee is a vote for Rudy Giuliani. In Iowa this is absolutely the case, and in other battleground states the same argument holds true.

Why is a vote for Huckabee a vote for Rudy?

On the surface the proposition appears preposterous. Huckabee and Rudy represent the absolute polar opposites of the GOP field; Huck being a solid social conservative but fiscal liberal/moderate and conversely Rudy being a social liberal/moderate and a solid fiscal conservative. I've had conversations with supporters of both Rudy and Huck; they are farily consistent in saying that the one candidate in the race that they wouldn't/couldn't vote for is the other.

However, at least for Team Rudy, their died-in-the-wool supporters are openly rooting for Huckabee to win Iowa. Also, these two candidate themselves seem to have man-crushes on one another. Seems odd, eh?

Well, Rudy and his most knowledgeable supporters know that Mitt is the only real threat to his path to the nomination. More and more people are realizing that the race is shaping up to be a Romney-Rudy showdown. Influential conservative editor of the Weekly Standard Fred Barnes penned a piece called "The Two-Man Race" arguing that only Rudy and Romney had "credible strategies/scenarios" to winning the GOP nomination. Fred said:

If a long shot like McCain or Thompson or even Mike Huckabee wins in Iowa (January 3) or New Hampshire (January 8) or South Carolina (January 19), there won't be enough time for him to raise the funds needed to compete effectively in Florida on January 29 and the 20-plus primaries on February 5. Television ads are expensive, but necessary.

Similarly, conservative columnist John Poderotz wrote a piece called "The Two Man Republican Race" where he also says it's down to Romney and Rudy. Of Huckabee he says:

Mike Huckabee, Baptist preacher turned politician, has taken Thompson’s place as the Southern conservative to watch, but while he is conservative on social issues, on economic and political matters he seems more in the populist traditions of the Democratic party, and he has no plausible path to the nomination.

Now I know there will be Huckabee supporter that believe that if he wins Iowa that he will pick up steam and win the subsequent states eventually going on to win the nomination. I respectfully disagree.

Huckabee's appeal is disproportionately weighted to firm evangelical Christians. The latest Iowa poll shows that Huckabee is blowing every other candidate away in this demographic. He's got nearly half of all evangelical Iowans polled in his camp already. He knows and speaks the language of this well-organized and motivated demographic. But is it enough? Maybe for Iowa, but not for the subsequent states.

Actually, let's take a look at the the primary calender and see if Huckabee has any "credible pathway" to the nomination:

Iowa--Jan 3rd.

Wyoming--Jan 5th (only a fraction of state's primary delegates up for grabs on this date though and these will be determined via a convention of party activists):

  • Conventional wisdom is that Romney will win here solidly (he got 61% of vote in a straw poll of party activists a couple of weeks ago . . . Rudy got 12%, Huckabee got 10%)
  • It's only TWO days after Iowa . . . not enough time for Huckabee to capitalize on an Iowa win to make a significant move among these activists.
  • Admittedly, whoever wins Wyoming won't get any kind of big boost because it's not a "major showdown" state. However, it can't be a negative to win this state that is sandwiched between IA and NH.

New Hampshire--Jan 8th:

  • Huckabee and Fred Thompson are currently fighting for FIFTH and SIXTH place in the Granite State . . . polling most recently between 5 and 6 % . . . BEHIND RON PAUL.
  • Huckabee is 27% points behind Romney (see link above of RCP averages).
  • The NH primary will take place just FIVE days after Iowa . . . enough time to shift things a little bit but not a total upheaval in the standings (barring any "Dean Scream" type gaffe . . . which could result in a large shift). Definitely not enough time to capitalize financially from an earlier win.
  • Rudy and McCain are working NH aggressively and polling strongly (it's an all or nothing state for McCain). Most people think that if Rudy can win here he will have the nomination wrapped up.
  • ANY political pundit will tell you the common mantra of "Three tickets out of Iowa, Two tickets out of NH." I invite any Huckabee supporter to convince me that he can place in the top two in NH and thereby survive beyond (remembering that, in general, GOP southern candidates don't have a great track record in NH and that NH voters tend to care about fiscal conservativsm MUCH MORE than social conservatism). The primary schedule has changed and so, admittedly, this mantra of conventional wisdom may not hold true,. Still, I don't see how any candidate that finishes fourth or worse in NH has any kind of momentum going into MI, NV, and SC.
  • The only race-changing effect that Huckabee can have by winning Iowa is cause some negative press to Romney and potentially shift the top of the standings in NH . . . allowing Rudy (or McCain?) to win it.

Michigan--Jan 15th:

  • One week after NH (again, not much time in between).
  • Huckabee is polling in FIFTH place (by a long shot by RCP averages)--a paltry 6%
  • Romney has a distinct advantage in MI since he is a "native son" (born and raised there . . . father was beloved three-term governor). Romney is tied for the lead there WITHOUT any advertising. But Rudy has a strong presence and this one will likely be somewhat influence by the outcome of NH (another northern state that not even Bush could win in the 2000 primary that doesn't tend to go for southern evangelical social conservatives).

Nevada--Jan 19th:

  • Huckabee is polling in SIXTH place (at 5%) . . . a good deal behind Thompson, McCain, and Ron Paul.
  • Rudy is leading polls here, but many think that Romney (who's not far behind) will have an advantage under their new-found caucus format.
  • Something tells me that voters in the state steeped in legalized gambling and legalized prostitution will not be suddenly "converted" to a candidate who is presumably the preferred choice of the Evangelical Christians.
  • Another state where previous poorer-than-expected showings for Romney would probably tilt the state to Rudy

South Carolina--Jan 19th (same day as Nevada . . . and thereby probably diluting the "bounce" of a win unless the same candidate wins them both):

  • Huckabee is currently polling in FIFTH place at 8%
  • Surprisingly to many (including yours truly), this state is being led by Romney now, but it really is a statistical dead heat with Rudy and Romney both between 20-22%.
  • I will agree with many Huckabee and Thompson supporters that their candidates have more of a "natural fit" in this state and could probably capitalize on prior wins to surge in the polls in the Palmetto State (both southerners with good social conservative credentials). However, the primary schedule just doesn't play to their favor with 3-4 states that they don't really have a shot of winning wedged between Iowa and South Carolina.

Florida--Jan 29th (27 electoral votes) has been polled:

  • Ditto everything I said above about SC (Huck's in FIFTH and @ 8%) . . . with the exception that Rudy has a much more commanding lead here. Even if Huck has managed to win IA and SC . . . he doesn't have the money or the organization to take on Rudy in FL. Romney does, and he's already polling in 2nd place in FL and is trending up nicely.
  • Rudy must be halted in FL . . . and Romney is the man to do it.


  • Rudy's Big-State strategy is focused on this date . . . just 33 days after the Iowa caucus.
  • Which candidate is best positioned to challenge Rudy in his supposed "firewall" states? (especially CA) I'll give you a hint and tell you that it isn't Huckabee.

Won't all these subsequent states come to love Huckabee like Iowa? Not enough for him to come even close to winning any of them (until possibly South Carolina). It is well known that social conservatives with a strongly religious appeal tend to over-perform in Iowa and then fade into irrelevance thereafter:

Huckabee will likely fall victim to a similar fate if he can't expand his appeal beyond religious social conservatives. Jim Geraghty recently wrote (and I read this after writing this blog entry):

One exception to my "close second" theory is Huckabee. He seems to be enjoying a well-timed surge, but unless he wins Iowa, he risks becoming John Podhoretz's "Republican Guy Who Is Coming Out of Nowhere to Place a Surprising Second in Iowa," a role JPod contends has been played in previous cycles by Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, and Steve Forbes. In other words, he gets one more news cycle of good press and then fades quickly.

Having said all that, if each win begets another bump in the polls, it's not unthinkable to see Romney win Iowa, win Wyoming (for whatever that's worth), win New Hampshire, win Michigan, win South Carolina by a hair, and then go into Florida with a very hot hand...

A word of warning to Huckabee supporters: If on caucus night, lots of Rudy supporters (who should be diametrically opposed to a candidate like Huckabee) start to align with the Huckabee camp you will know that you are being used as a tool for a Rudy nomination. Ironically, you are probably the voting block that would be most opposed to having a pro-choice candidate, yet it would be, at least in part, your own doing.

Of course, James Dobson and/or Tony Perkins and/or Richard Land could help the average Christian conservative realize all of the above by endorsing Romney BEFORE Jan 3rd. Otherwise, they risk being complicit in creating the situation they supposedly lament: a pro-choice GOP nominee that will necessitate a 3rd party pro-life candidate. This scenario will hand Hillary the oval office on a silver platter. So then, might one also conclude: "A vote for Huckabee is a vote for Hillary?"

I, therefore, invite and implore all social conservative Iowans to consider supporting Governor Mitt Romney on Jan 3rd at your Caucus event. His is the largest tent unifying social, fiscal, and security conservatives and this coalition of strength can carry him forward beyond Iowa to win the GOP nomination and the general election. It CAN happen and we all SHOULD be a part of it.

UPDATE 11/27:
Yet even more evidence of a Rudy/Huckabee alliance to take out Mitt.

The New York Sun has a piece called "Giuliani, Huckabee Emerge as Strange Bedfellows"

Time's take is noted in the article "Giuliani's Huckabee Strategy"

Rich Lowry of the National Review sees this trend in his "The Corner" post "Rudy and Huck sittin in a Tree . . . "

These pieces in Time and the New York Sun point out something that's been increasingly evident over the last few days: how nicely Rudy and Huck's strategies mesh. They both are attacking Romney for a lack of authenticity, with Huck blasting the former Massachusetts governor on social issues and Rudy blasting him on everything else. Together, they've got all the ground covered. The division of labor works geographically as well — Huck is threatening Romney in Iowa, which could weaken Romney in New Hampshire, where Rudy is increasingly vested in a strong finish (so much for the old Florida and Feb. 5 strategy). At the end of the day, I'm sure that the Rudy folks would like nothing more than for Huck to win the "conservative primary" within the Republican primary and emerge as the alternative to Rudy. Huck would be the weakest anti-Rudy contender. This seems so obvious that if I were a calculating Rudy donor who had already maxed out for my guy, I'd be tempted to send some money Huck's way.

These kind of transparently calculating alliances tend to backfire. Evangelical Christians don't want to be used as a tool to elect a pro-choice nominee and then have to vote 3rd party to protect the pro-life cause. Talk about a "Lose-Lose" situation.


Scott said...

Well written and right on the money. I just wish I lived in Iowan to vote for Mitt.

I'm very depressed thinking a lot of conservative Christians are going to vote for Huck only to help Rudy in the end.

While there's a perfectly good canidate who shares Christian values and will be a strong leader for America--Mitt Romney

Jeff Fuller said...

"I feel your pain Scott"

Seriously, I do. What a sad day in American politics if the pro-life base is the means of nominating a pro-choice candidate.

Even worse if some of these supporters object to Romney (at least in part) on religious grounds.

SGS said...

Just in case there are some readers here who think Huckabee can pull off B.Clinton's movement. One thing Huckabee does not have that Bill had was the time. There will be about 20 primaries on Feb 5. Huckabee has only a month to try to get the voters to vote for him, while Bill had until the late summer to work in many of the same States. And, to make it worst for Huckabee, Bill had the organization and money to take advantage of his winnings, while Huckabee barely has his national organization up and running, left alone the state organizations outside of Iowa. This is one thing Romney has going for him -- he has established organizations and a several committees in every state. They may not be active, but they are all ready to move on! So, yes, Huckabee may be from the same town as Bill, but he won't be able to pull the Clinton Miracle. If Huckabee wins Iowa, then the state will then be tossed off.

Anonymous said...

My name is Brinn and I am a graduate student at Iowa State University. I'm a Huckabee supporter but I'm not here to pick a fight with you or start a debate about Romney vs. Huckabee, I just want to share what is on my heart (and on the hearts of other Huckabee supporters I know). You know, I don't know how all this is going to end up or who is going to be the nominee. What I do know is that I am going to caucus on January 3 for someone that I believe in, that has restored my hope in politics, and someone who I believe has the policy ideas to transform this country. Those are the reasons I'm caucusing for Huckabee and please, please stop the claim that my doing so is, in the end, a vote for Rudy. I refuse not to vote for Huckabee out of fear of a Rudy nomination (which I think we can both agree isn't what we want). I have only been eligible to vote in two national elections and voting for the most electible candidate hasn't helped me or this country much. Not again sir. Not again. This time I'm voting for the person I believe in,regardless of the outcome. So as Tom Petty would say, "you can stand me up to the gates of hell, but I wont back down".

God bless you and your family. Good luck to you and your candidate.

Brinn Shjegstad

Anonymous said...

I respect your choice, but a vote for Huckabee nevertheless is projected as a vote for Rudy.

Jeff Fuller isn't the one who started this story--national experts who've watched 30 years of elections are saying this. In their view, Huckabee is only doing what Rudy can't do himself in Iowa: stop Romney.

Further, Huckabee simply doesn't have the machine across the country to compete with Rudy. Sorry, that's just the simple truth.

Do as your conscience dictates, Brinn. Yet, realize that voting for Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, or Tom Tancredo will do vitually nothing. They're unelectable.

Being pragmatic, in addition to following committment, is important.

Nealie Ride said...


My parents voted for Ross Perot (I believe in 1992). He had no chance, but suckered a lot of people into voting for him.

As a result, the Republican vote was split and Bill Clinton was elected.

Now, they liked Perot more than George Bush. I can't blame them. But, guess who they got as their president as a result? Yep, big, bad Bill Clinton.

So, actions sometimes have unintended consequences.

willie said...

Please consider what Charles Mitchell at Evangelicals for Mitt has to say about Huckabee.

He wrote a piece, "I'm one of you." Among other points, Charles explained that "picking a president based on whether he's "one of us" as opposed ot how he'd actually govern was a terrible idea."

Read the entire story here:

Charles Mitchell is not a Mormon. He's an evangelical Christian. He sees Mitt's abilities as important--not Mitt's theology.

Daniel Caldwell said...

3 issues here:
Wyoming... can we get a poll there?
VP... can we get Mitt's top 10 choices from his own perspective (not suggestions)?
How much success did the Dec. 7 fund-raising have?