Mike and Mitt in Iowa
It was just a few months ago that I was noting former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s relative absence from political headlines dealing with the 2012 invisible presidential primary. At the time, Huckabee had just made a few public moves seemingly designed to generate some renewed media attention, but his endorsement of a whole slate of candidates in Iowa this week clearly signals his intention to be a player in Republican presidential politics during the next cycle, even if he doesn’t actually run for his party’s nomination.
Huckabee got some good news this week with the release of a new poll showing him leading the Republican field in a hypothetical Iowa Caucus match-up. Part of this showing is no doubt a carryover from his 2008 victory there, as Huckabee continues to have a strong relationship with the social and religious conservatives who participate in the caucus in large numbers, and who would likely mobilize for him should he run again. I continue to believe that even with another Iowa win in 2012, Huckabee is unlikely to be the Republican nominee, but his continued strength in Iowa will provide him with a real opportunity to play nomination politics.
Interestingly enough, the new Iowa poll is also pretty good news for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, in that he only trails Huckabee by four points. Conventional wisdom has been that religious conservatives in Iowa are sufficiently suspicious of Romney’s conservative credentials (and Mormonism) that he would likely need to instead launch his candidacy with a win in New Hampshire. If Romney were to finish a close second to Huckabee in Iowa, however, that could give his candidacy some additional momentum heading into the more comfortable political terrain of the New Hampshire Primary. I guess it’s no surprise that Romney is headed back to the Hawkeye State in the very near future.
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