Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Huckabee's the best bet for now

My main thought on the Republican Presidential field as 2011 begins is that the party needs someone outside the current top 4 of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich to come out of the pack and win the nomination. Despite the fact that Barack Obama continues to be relatively unpopular he leads all of these folks in our national polling and he leads them in the individual swing states we've polled- places like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia- as well. If he's beating them right now, two months removed from his party getting annihilated at the polls in the midterm election, then he's really going to be knocking them out of the park if his numbers ever see any real improvement- and if I had to put money on it I'd say they will eventually.

Romney, Huckabee, Palin, and Gingrich's problem isn't that they're unknown. They've all been in the national spotlight before and they all had at least 75% name recognition on our most recent national poll. Their problem is that folks do know them- and they don't like them. Once that bad impression's been made it's hard to make a different one.

So the GOP's going to be best served by a fresh face. Still the odds are better than not for now that one of these folks will be the Republican nominee- and if it is one of them there's no doubt in my mind that the best one for the GOP's prospects next year would be Mike Huckabee.

Why Huckabee's better than Gingrich and Palin. You could answer this question in one simple word: electability. In nine swing states where we've polled since November (Virginia, Montana, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida) Huckabee has trailed Obama by an average of 2 points. In those same places Gingrich has trailed by an average of 7 points and Palin by an average of 11 points. Huckabee is massively more viable in a general election than these two. That's at least partially because he has the most appeal to Democrats of the Republican front runners.

Why Huckabee's better than Romney. Romney has actually done a little better than Huckabee in these early swing state polls, trailing Obama by an average of just 1 point. In addition Romney has shown the most appeal to independents so far of the top Republicans. There's a large difference in how much enthusiasm there is for Huckabee and Romney with the GOP base though. 73% of conservative Republicans have a favorable opinion of Huckabee, putting him just behind Palin's 77%, and well ahead of Romney's 58%. For all the hand wringing of the last two years you better believe Democrats are going to be excited about going out to reelect Barack Obama in 2012. Republicans need to be able to match that and they're going to need a candidate they're enthusiastic about to make that happen- for now Huckabee fits the bill on that front and Romney doesn't.

Huckabee's the only one of the top Republicans who has the combination of electability and base appeal it's going to take to beat Barack Obama. Romney has the electability but not the base appeal, Palin has the base appeal but not the electability, and Gingrich sort of falls in the middle on both counts. A lot will change over the course of 2011 but at least based on the information we have so far Huckabee looks like the GOP's best bet.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

You forgot about Ron Paul. That's okay, I'm gonna let his millions of fans know about this link.

Anonymous said...

For Obama to lose in 2012, you need a moderate...otherwise most will still vote the same as they did last time. Just mentioning Palin as a possible nominee is hilarious- she cost Mccain my vote (and I'm betting those of a few million other moderates as well) last time because of his medical history (still fairly sure he'd not have survived a 4 year term with all the extra stress as president- senate is laughable comparably). But if Ron Paul had been his vp, he'd have gotten my vote back for having someone qualified as his replacement.

Wolf of Aquarius said...

Shhhh.... you shouldn't be giving the GOP good advice ;-). But after Delaware last year, I have very little faith that Republican primary voters will make the rational choice.

Anonymous said...

Ron Paul. How many states did he win in 2008? Oh, that is right "O"....with something like "30 - 40 delegates?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Palin is poisoning the GOP process. There will not be any (viable) fresh faces running because they are intimidated by her star-power and hostile rhetoric. Any fresh face who disagrees with her too vehemently risks political suicide. Even if she decides not to run, she will not announce her decision for a few more months so as to continue stringing along the media for as long as possible. At which point, it will be too late for a fresh face to catch up. In the ensuing battle, Huckabee, IF he runs, wins.

DBL said...

While Obama has an approval rating that's about even in most polls. Some of that disapproval, however, comes from the left, people who are going to vote for him. While his performance might be disappointing to some, his likability is much higher. He should be leading the pack, especially considering that none of his most high profile competition holds office right now.

They're only on Fox News. Outside of Fox News viewers, they aren't making news. The President is in the news every day. No one every heard of Mike Huckabee until December 2007. It's too early.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people are overlooking Mitch Daniels. He's basically a Romney Republican, but with more populist appeal. He's also the smartest potential candidate in the mix, maybe even smarter than Gingrich. In my opinion, he's the best shot the GOP has.

NRH said...

The problem Republicans face now is that their base wants someone who won't compromise on anything, and that doesn't play well with most moderate, independent, or swing voters. The Republican primary voters in Delaware wanted a hard-line right winger over a moderate, even at the cost of a Senate seat. Alaska Republicans picked a guy so far out of the mainstream that a write-in candidate won.

The people most likely to show up to Republican primaries these days are the most extreme far-right partisans, even in blue states (at least ones with closed primaries). The only way a Republican can win is to pull off the trick of winking and nodding to the right without the non-Fox media mentioning it.

Jonny V said...

How about when Republican base voters find out that Mike Huckabee believes in man made climate change?

Also I think the main reason that Huckabee does better than Palin and Gingrich is that he hasn't really been through the mud yet... I think as people find out about some of the really crazy things he's said he will be toast (for example he said that people with AIDS should be quarantined.)

Anonymous said...

The reason polling is low for the front runners despite Obama's abysmal ratings, it that, most non-socialist Americans are avoiding commitment until the path is clear. 08 was a disaster as far as judgement. Now people are being very very sure.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Huckabee is clearly the best choice for 2012. We seem to be in a historic time for conservatives--I'm hoping "all of the above" (well, nearly) actually put the nation's interests above their own political ambitions and just this once get behind the guy who has what it takes to win and then to give scope to all their talents to bring America back from the brink.

Anonymous said...

There is no moderate voter. There are just soft marxists. They said the same thing about Reagan at this point as they are saying about Palin. America will suffer greatly as a socialist nation. It already is and will increase. Make a choice. Middle is socialist.

Craig said...

Nice to see Huckabee doing so well.

Huckabee/Kasich 2012 : )

Craig said...

Anonymous said...
Ms. Palin is poisoning the GOP process. There will not be any (viable) fresh faces running because they are intimidated by her star-power and hostile rhetoric. Any fresh face who disagrees with her too vehemently risks political suicide. Even if she decides not to run, she will not announce her decision for a few more months so as to continue stringing along the media for as long as possible. At which point, it will be too late for a fresh face to catch up. In the ensuing battle, Huckabee, IF he runs, wins.

January 4, 2011 1:48 PM

===

Bingo! : )

Craig said...

Anonymous said...
I agree that Huckabee is clearly the best choice for 2012. We seem to be in a historic time for conservatives--I'm hoping "all of the above" (well, nearly) actually put the nation's interests above their own political ambitions and just this once get behind the guy who has what it takes to win and then to give scope to all their talents to bring America back from the brink.

January 4, 2011 3:56 PM

===

Well said. THAT's our (Republicans) only chance to beat Obama.

United we win. But it will be very close if the economy drastically improves.

Unless we nominate Palin where we lose big either way.

Anonymous said...

Keep telling us who you want. We get that you want social justice and big government Huck. That would be a great match for Obama, right?

We will pick our candidate and not the elites, the corrupt MSM or World Government Man Soros.

Let the primaries begin.

Anonymous said...

If Huckabee is the GOP nominee, you can count on four more years of Obama, Huckabee is a RINO and a Statist.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people think Daniels or Gingich are smarter than Romney! They are very smart but not SMARTER than Romney! Romney is the only one who can singlehandedly draft a market based healthcare cost reduction strategy by analyzing the health care value chain! In Massachusetts he kept the costs as a percentage of the budget quite low unlike Obama who will bankrupt the country but he did not set out to reduce the structural costs of healtcare which no one else has been able to do either. He has a solid academic record and a brilliant history in consulting and private equity sustained over decades. He is the type of guy America needs to compete and excel in the twentyfirst century.

Anonymous said...

"Keep telling us who you want. We get that you want social justice and big government Huck. That would be a great match for Obama, right?

We will pick our candidate and not the elites, the corrupt MSM or World Government Man Soros.

Let the primaries begin."

Yes, please let the reverse psychology work!

Anonymous said...

Mike Huckabee has either won or come in a close 2nd in most polls for the last 18 months. To win these polls, he had to have the most Republican, Conservative and Independent voters to select him. He is not just an Evangelical leader. He promised Arkansas that he would not force his religion on them, and he didn't. He also promised not to force his religion on America if he becomes our President. He is our best bet to beat Obama in 2012.

Anonymous said...

For Obama to lose in 2012, you need a conservative...otherwise most will still vote the same as they did last time. Just mentioning Kuckabee or RomneyCare as a possible nominee is hilarious-Palin got Mccain my vote (and I'm betting those of a few million other conservatives as well) last time because of his medical history (still fairly sure he'd not have survived a 4 year term with all the extra stress as president- senate is laughable comparably). But if Ron Paul had been his vp, Obama would have gotten my vote back for having someone qualified as his replacement.

Anonymous said...

Huckabee? No effin' way.

Anonymous said...

I am a conservative and I don't like Huckabee - I hope he does not run.I don't want Palin either.I don't care for Newt and he could not win.I don't think the top 4 can win.Perhaps Pence would be okay, I don't know him well enough yet.We need a true conservative not a fraud or a weakling.I like someone that has guts and not slick like the Huckster.No didipline, he's getting porky again.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Tom Jensen's thoughts on Mike Huckabee. You should support Mike Huckabee. He is qualified. He's competent. He's very humorous and likeable, and he is a very good speaker. So, he could defeat Barack Obama in the Presidential debates and really make Obama look silly one on one, and then defeat him in the general election. Mike Huckabee is the Republicans best chance at winning the election. He would be a good President. Well done, Tom. Keep up the good analysis.

Best wishes,
apacalyps

The Interesting Times said...

Anonymous:
"The reason polling is low for the front runners despite Obama's abysmal ratings, it that, most non-socialist Americans are avoiding commitment until the path is clear. 08 was a disaster as far as judgement. Now people are being very very sure."

Aside from the "non-socialist" remark, I basically agree with this.

Many of your majority of Americans who no longer approve of the job Obama is doing as President already see themselves as having been fooled once. President Obama just hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations sown by candidate Obama.

These people are not about to let themselves get "fooled" again. They are going to stay non-committal until the last minute.

What I expect is that whoever wins the 2012 Republican primary will immediately poll much better against Obama than now; though part of this will be due to the post-primary bounce, any gain not attributable to the bounce will be sustained for the duration of the campaign. Moreover, I expect that many independents will flock toward the Republican candidate starting in mid-September of 2012, in much the same way that they flocked to Obama in 2008.

Finally, I will simply point out that no President with Obama's current approval rating has ever won reelection (with the debatable exception of Truman). I doubt the American people were much more impressed with Nixon than they are with Romney today, but in the end Johnson's low approval dragged Humphrey down and got Nixon elected.

Anonymous said...

Republicans let the media, Independents, and cross-voting Democrats choose McCain. I don't think that worked out so well. Maybe they should try voting Republican and not for apologists like Huckabee.

Look up Rogers, Arkansas if you want to see Huckabee's America.

The Interesting Times said...

Regarding the individual Republican contenders, I don't think Huckabee's path to victory is as clear as advertised.

From my experience, many Republicans are suspicious of Huckabee. For one thing, just the fact that Huckabee is the Democrats' favorite Republican candidate raises red flags with some.

You can expect the other primary candidates to take advantage of those suspicions, which, if he won, would leave Huckabee as a rather damaged candidate going into the general election. Huckabee is not likely to be as strong of a contender after the smoke clears.

I still regard Romney as the Republicans' best option. Yes, many Republicans are suspicious about Romney's health care scheme from when he was Governor of Massachusetts, but bringing this up in the primary campaign would only turn off conservatives and interest moderates. If Romney actually wins the primary, those conservatives will have to come home to him, and hold their noses and vote for him like they did with McCain--unless they want another four years of Obama. Meanwhile, the moderates will not have been scared off, which might make up for the deficit in the independent vote that doomed McCain.

Huckabee's problems, on the other hand, are more likely to alienate both conservatives and moderates alike if they get much air time.

Anonymous said...

I love Mike Huckabee!!!!! He was my choice in 2008 and he'll be my choice in 2012 if he decides to run.

Anonymous said...

So what you found out is that Romney would be the best candidate for Republicans to pick. However, you'd rather recommend Huckabee.

Huckabee won't look nearly as good as a candidate when they start running the Maurice Clemmons commercials. The only reason that Huckabee looks good now is that he hasn't been tested. By contrast, everyone already knows about Romney's weaknesses (Romneycare, Mormon, etc.).

Personally, I find Huckabee to just be another George Bush. Socially conservative but fiscally liberal.

slickvguy said...

Huckabee has zero chance of being elected, for numerous reasons. Best bet? I don't see how anyone could think such a thing. Who does Huckabee appeal to? A small slice of voters. There would be no reason to vote for Huckabee over Obama. Voters want someone who will be 1) strong on the economy and 2) be able to handle foreign policy/defense/terrorism. Huckabee is weak on both.

The GOP must put up someone who presents a strong contrast to Obama. Palin would fit that bill (contrast), but I don't think she'd win (credibility/competence issue, strong negatives).

I hate to say it, but unless the GOP comes up with someone aside from the already mentioned suspects, I see Obama winning in 2012. None of the names floating around stand a chance.

Anonymous said...

"Well said. THAT's our (Republicans) only chance to beat Obama.

United we win. But it will be very close if the economy drastically improves."

"drastic" is sooooort of a strange word choice as it usually doesn't have positive connotations. Though I think that's consistent with the GOP.

They voted uniformly against the economic stimulus (like everything else). Why? I know it wasn't because of the deficit since their insistence on making Bush tax cuts permanent (and citing the recession as a reason) revealed they don't really care about the deficit. Limbaugh saying he hopes Obama fails, Mitch McConnell saying his priority is- not the economy, not security- but making Obama a one-termer. And a recent CNN poll showing 61% of Republicans hope Obama's policies fail, presumably meaning the economy stays in the toilet. Obama's approval is now 50% with 10% unemployment. If the economy improves... I'll go with dramatically, the race will not in fact be close. And Huckabee will likely take a pass.

Anonymous said...

HUCKABEE IS A WEAK-KNEED, STEALTH
LIBERAL, HE SIDED WITH MICHELLE
OBAMA REGARDING HER FOOD CONTROL.
WHEN JON VOIGHT WAS ON HIS SHOW
GOV MIKE PRETENDED THAT OBAMA WAS
WAS DOING JUST FINE. I THOUGHT HE
WAS GOING TO BOW BEFORE WHOOPI.
HE PRETENDS HES A MAN OF THE PEOPLE
JUST BOUGHT A $ 3 MIL HOUSE & OWNS
OTHERS. HE DOESNT HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BATTLE OBAMA ! !

Coral said...

Does anyone else have the impression that the "lame-stream" media is once again foisting "their" chosen opposition on us? We saw their wooing and promotion of McCain who was in many ways...Obama lite, so why would we want to listen to them now? We need someone who has a great track record, who is truly conservative and who isn't another tired piece of Republican establishment. Huckabee and most of those who are being proposed right now are just that. Isn't it time to look at other Republican candidates who are principled, experienced and fresh?

Anonymous said...

Unbelieveable how much MISinformation gets spread around about Gov. Huckabee. i.e. Jonny V (in a comment above) CLAIMS that it is Huckabee who, "believes in man made climate change", but THE TRUTH IS that it was Mitt Romney who made this statement in his most recent book. PLEASE get your facts STRAIGHT people before blindly spreading false information around. We need to coalesce behind Gov. Huckabee as early as possible to be able to take on Obama's $Billion+ campaign (4+ times the size of Romney's entire net worth).

Jon said...

"Still the odds are better than not for now that one of these folks will be the Republican nominee-"

Baloney. Intrade ranks Thune's chances ahead of everybody but Romney and Palin, but you don't even mention him. At this point the polls are mostly just measuring name ID.

Anonymous said...

Sound like teh RINOS or the left are starting to work hard on telling Conservatives who to vote for to guarantee a failure.

No, WILL NEVER VOTE for another RJNO again. No, another McCain, Not another Arnold the terminator, No more Bushes or Republican elites. Not More RINOS Ever. Will rather sit the election.

We do not need "moderates" in the Republican Party. We need conservatives. Real conservatives. RINOS=Democrats.

Look at Scott Brown, Olympia Snow, Liza Macakoskswsskiiii from Alaska, Lindsay Granhan or what ever the name of the Senator is. 60%-70% of voting Democrat does not equal conservative. They are all a joke of a conservative

Rule of thumb " who ever the Liberal/Democrats/Lame Media.." love then is a "no" vote for my family. Who ever the "hate" is who they fear=Vote from my family.

The media loves Huuuukkkkabeee and Rodney. Easy...Huuuukabeee is week, RINO, not backbone and the media will love to get more info on the rapist that he led out (similar to Bush I). Rodney the media lves because they will love to poinbt out of Rommney care failed and/or "you see....Rommeny care is so, good then why not Obamacare...". Also, the fact that he is a Mormom the left/democrats and the Lame media will love to turn the Christian majority against Rommeny religion.

Thanks, but not thank. i can think on my own. Do not need the socialist tell me who to vote.

All-in-for..... said...

In the 2008 primaries, I carefully researched ALL the Republican candidates. I looked past their rhetoric, slick ads, and consultant-generated image promotion. Since past performance is the best indicator of future success, I looked at their actual records while in office. Huckabee's 10+ years as governor (re-elected twice!) proved that he has the vision, leadership, and principles to serve as President. He is a fiscal conservative, staunchly and reliably pro-life, a highly gifted communicator, and a good man with good character. He is a formidable campaigner and a skilled debater. Huckabee/Daniels!

Anonymous said...

We need somebody who can generate programs that can create jobs. Let us forget about anything else for now, except the ECONOMY and jobs. This is why we need Romney.

Anonymous said...

The party will need to be on a united front regardless who is put against President Obama. A divided prty will not beat him.

Chin Shih Tang said...

I agree with your analysis and think it's a useful corrective to the obsession with Palin.
There's a couple of questions about him, though: does he have the all-consuming desire to run? And does he have the organization to raise the money it will take to take the lead in the nomination contest (after he does that, they will flock to him)?

Anonymous said...

For all those anti-huckabee people who say things like RINO, big Government - Please don't post your ignorance. The previous governor LOST a court battle and Huckabee as a law-abiding govenor did the right thing he implemented the required court order reforms in the minimalist way possible. What was he supposed to do? Defy the court? If he did that we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Grow up and check your facts.

Anonymous said...

Some of you underestimate Mike Huckabee. You take quotes out of context and distort what he has done. Example: The Arkansans voted to raise taxes when they wanted something that exceeded the current budget. You said that Mike raised taxes. Why don't you read: Do the Right Thing. It is an eye opener. Mike is strong and not intimidated by anyone.

Anonymous said...

My short list consists of some names I didn't even see here, specifically:
-Bobby Jindal, Louisiana
-Haley Barbour, Mississippi
-Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota
-Ron Paul
-Mitch Daniels
-Herman Cain, Georgia

Anonymous said...

Mike Huckabee has the strongest record of accomplishment of any Republican contender now. Huck would smoke Obama in debates and he will smoke any Republican in debates as he proved in the 2008 Republican primary debates. The only way Huck will lose in 2012 is if he doesn't run. I say Huck/Paul 2012!

Anonymous said...

How did Ron Paul pan out on head to head 'electability' against Obama? I remember Rasmussen ran a poll that had them pretty close last year.... with Ron Paul at 41% and Obama at 42%, in good part because of Ron Paul's strength with independents (sort of the way you are looking at Huckabee with Democrats.) http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections/election_2012/election_2012_barack_obama_42_ron_paul_41

Are you going to look at that?

 
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