The final Des Moines Register poll puts Huckabee up over Romney 32 percent to 26 percent. Given that the Republican caucuses (unlike the Democratic ones) function simply like a primary–you cast your vote and walk away–these numbers have to be regarded as pretty good. The most telling demographic is that nearly half of all likely GOP caucus-goers describe themselves as either born-again or fundamentalist Christians. Huckabee, of course, gets the lion’s share of them. This all brings me back to 1988, when Pat Robertson came in second, stunning the George H.W. Bush campaign, and requiring then-governor John Sununu to bail the v.p. out in New Hampshire. Romney is a George H.W. kind of candidate–indeed, if you’ll recall his introduction of Mitt for the College Station speech, you figure he is George H.W.’s candidate. But there’s no Gov. Sununu who can ride to the rescue in New Hampshire, nor does Mitt have a Lee Atwater manning the firewall in South Carolina. And the evangelicals who poured out to support Pat in ’88 are a lot more seasoned 20 years down the road. In other words, I’m not looking for Huckabee to be Romneyed the way Robertson was Bushwacked.
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November 18, 2019
About the author
Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service