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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via CNN: Poll: Huckabee would lose to top Democrats by double digits

In head-to-head matchups — the first to include Huckabee — the former Arkansas governor loses to Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York by 10 percentage points (54 percent to 44 percent), to Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois by 15 points (55 percent to 40 percent) and to former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina by 25 points (60 percent to 35 percent).

On the one hand, it is early and Huckabee is still in the process of building national name recognition and further, I never trust such polls until there is actual head-to-head campaigning between the persons in question. Such a campaign could narrow that gap, or even widen it. There just isn’t that much general knowledge about Huckabee out there at the moment.

On the other hand, however, these numbers comport with my basic view of where a Huckabee campaign would eventually land: in a serious defeat on election day. At the end of the day, I think that Huckabee’s Baptist minister background will turn a large number of voters off. First, the current President has been perhaps the most vocal in modern history as to the way in which his Evangelical worldview has guided policy, including getting the country involved in the Iraq War. Specifically there is the example of him telling Bob Woodward that he didn’t consult with his father, the former president, on the issue of invading Iraq, but instead prayed over the matter:

Did Mr. Bush ask his father for any advice? “I asked the president about this. And President Bush said, ‘Well, no,’ and then he got defensive about it,” says Woodward. “Then he said something that really struck me. He said of his father, ‘He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice. The wrong father to go to, to appeal to in terms of strength.’ And then he said, ‘There’s a higher Father that I appeal to.’”

In short, I think that Bush has made it far more problematic for a candidate with an overtly Evangelical message. There are reasons that Huckabee doesn’t want to dwell over-much on religious doctrine.

As such, the Bush Effect on this issues will make it easier to attack Huckabee on the question of governance as influenced by an overtly Evangelical worldview, especially when Huckabee has already made claims about the power of prayer and his recent rise in the polls. Let’s face facts, even highly religious people get nervous when people starts talking like they are God’s agent, especially people who want to be the commander-in-chief of the United States of America.

And yes: there are segments of the GOP wherein his Evangelicalism will be a bonus, but the question is how will it play with Republicans currently disaffected with the Bush administration, or swing voters who went with Bush in recent cycles-especially in places like Ohio.

Beyond that, we have already seen that some Republicans think that Huckabee’s religious point-of-view makes him too soft to fight the war on terror, and then there are the critiques of his fiscal policy bona fides, as he is not seen as a small government conservative, but rather a continuation of Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.” Such issues will influence turnout-which is always key.

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Filed under: US Politics, 2008 Campaign, Religion | |


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  3. Huckabee has a shot at carrying states like Georgia and South Carolina, but he won’t win states like Ohio or Minnesota. I’m pretty confident that when the primaries play out, he’ll find his support pretty much isolated to the southeast.

    I think you’re spot on in framing Huckabee’s electability in the context of the religious affiliation of the current president. I think for good or bad, W. set a sort of standard for how much religion Americans want in the white house. W is the limit; any more is too much. In the end, Rudy and McCain are going to have a wider audience, and I think Huckabee’s religion will end up working against him.

    I don’t necessarily agree with this position, but a close friend in Cleveland, OH made a statement I think will resonate with a lot of folks. We were talking about Huckabee and my friend asked “Don’t the bad guys believe they’re agents of God?” I don’t think this individual was trying to compare baptist christianity to fundamental islam; but I think his concern is valid and will probably be mirrored in the majority of voting republicans.

    Comment by Captain D. — Tuesday, December 11, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

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