However, in the spirit of an ardent Romney supporter and as someone who likes to look into the detailed demographics of voting/polls, I'd be worried if I were Mike Huckabee.
The New York Times is reporting that OVER 80% of Huckabee caucus supporters described themselves as Evangelical Christians.
And lead paragraphs like this don't help the image of Huckabee's win here:
Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, rode a crest of evangelical Christian support to victory on Thursday over his rival Mitt Romney, capping a remarkable ascent over the last two months from near the bottom of the Republican field. A poll of people entering the Republican caucuses on Thursday showed more than 8 in 10 of his supporters identified themselves as evangelicals.
The same surveys showed extraordinary turnout among evangelicals, who represented some 60 percent of Republican caucusgoers. In years past, Republican Party leaders in Iowa put evangelical turnout at about 40 percent [actually, this story reports that the 2000 evangelical turnout was 39%].Mr. Romney’s advisers had been saying that if evangelical turnout rose to more than 50 percent, victory would be impossible for Mr. Romney, whose Mormon faith is regarded as heretical by many evangelicals.
DES MOINES — Just as the Republican caucuses began on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., a small group of women and children joined hands in the middle of the ballroom at Mike Huckabee's headquarters here and began to pray for his election.Now I want to be clear, I love the evangelical community. In the conservative coalition I align myself strongly with Christian conservatism. We all need eachother. And I can definitely see the appeal of Huckabee to Evangelical voters (at least superfiscially, and before a deep probing of him and his campaign).
Going back to the numbers . . . Rich Lowry put it pretty clearly:
Here's one way to look at it: 60% of voters were evangelicals. Huck beat Romney among them 45-19%. 40% weren't evangelicals. Romney beat Huck among them 33-13%.The breakdown goes as such:
- Huckabee 46%
- Romney 19%
- Thompson 11%
- Paul 10%
- McCain 10%
- Giuliani 2%
- Romney 33%
- McCain 18%
- Thompson 17%
- Huckabee 13%
- Paul 11%
- Giuliani 6%
Turnout for the GOP in the Iowa Caucuses was projected to be 80,000. It turns out that there were 114,000 voters . . . and it represents the highest turnout of Evangelicals ever (by a long shot) at nearly 70,000.
However, this other New York Times article shows that, while 25% of the US population consider themselves Evangelicals, only 12% of the US population are "traditionalist" Evangelicals. The rest are "centrists" or "modernists" and their votes split between the parties. If Huckabee thinks that he can count on the "traditionalist" Evangelical vote to carry him to the nomination, he's sorely misinformed. If he somehow manages to get the nomination, Evangelicals surely won't be enough to carry him into the White House. The Dems are still licking their chops at the prospect of him being the nominee.
The good news heading into New Hampshire is that the Romney camp turned out MORE people than they thought they would--over 30,000 votes. But if not for the super showing by the evangelicals, Romney would have won this going away. His 30,000+ votes among the projected 80,000 voters would have been nearly 40% of the vote . . . a convincing victory similar to Bush's Iowa win in 2000. Huckabee over-performed last night at nearly 40,000 votes. But LESS THAN 10,000 of those voters were NOT evangelicals (fewer votes than even Ron Paul got in the caucuses). Put another way, only 1 out of every 330 non-evangelical Iowans turned out to vote for Huckabee as their next commander in chief. Hardly a "mandate" for him.
The likely outcome of the Iowa GOP delegate count is very interesting too:
Huckabee - 34% (17 delegates)
Romney - 25% (12 delegates)
Thompson - 13% (3 delegates)
McCain - 13% (3 delegates)
Paul - 10% (2 delegates)
Giuliani - 4% (no delegates)
New Hampshire is not "winner take all" for their GOP delegates either (all 12 of them). However NH shakes out, it's still pretty clear that Romney will be the leader in total delegates after NH (counting the delegates he'll probably pick up tomorrow in Wyoming). That may be a convincing argument to Romney passing the viability and electability test and being the one who can re-unite the conservative coalition.
Romney supporters need to realize what a strange aberration of evangelical outpouring the Iowa caucus was. Romney turned out his supporters. He'll do the same in NH. He's the best candidate we have bar none. As another Romney supporter said, it's time to quickly lick our wounds and battle on.