Jay Reding.com

The Real Loser In South Carolina

Is Mike Huckabee:

For all the talk about South Carolina being the death knell for Thompson, who South Carolina really killed was Huckabee. Huckabee is an insurgent. He has neither the establishment support, nor the money, nor the conservative movement mouthpieces to drag him along.

Huckabee has only the force of his own personality and the media momentum perception. Insurgent candidates like Huckabee need to ride a wave to victory and any wave Huckabee had broke on the shores of South Carolina’s coastline.

Huckabee does have the support of a certain segment of the evangelical vote, but his game of identity politics means he’s already alienated everyone else. Right now the media is fawning over the guy they fawned over in 2000, which leaves Huckabee high and dry. He doesn’t have the support to win and he has little chance of broadening their support.

Had Romney been knocked out in Michigan I think Thompson would have probably won South Carolina on the basis of sealing enough of the conservative vote. There’s still an incredibly small chance that as the race continues Thompson could still pull that off—but that’s contingent on having enough money on hand to remain in the race. Right now the conservative vote is split between Thompson and Romney. If their votes were combined, one or the other would be ahead. If they drop out, it leaves conservatives with a choice of John McCain or Mike Huckabee—which is not the most appetizing choice for many, although McCain would almost certainly be the beneficiary in that case.

In the end, South Carolina spells the death of the Huckabee campaign. If he can’t win there, he can’t win elsewhere, and he needed a win to keep his momentum going. Huckabee’s a talented politician, but he can’t broaden his base beyond his evangelical constituency, and he’s made enough tactical mistakes in recent weeks to take the shine off of his campaign.

Thompson may have been put out by South Carolina, but Huckabee’s second place doesn’t give him much room either. The dynamics of the race are changing, and they’re not changing in a way that’s at all helpful to Mike Huckabee. His narrow appeal and lack of experience have ensured that he can’t broaden his base enough to win, which means that his outsider challenge is likely to fail.

One response to “The Real Loser In South Carolina”

  1. Mark says:

    “which leaves Huckabee high and dry. He doesn’t have the support to win and he has little chance of broadening their support.”

    On the contrary, he stands to benefit mightily from Thompson’s pending withdrawal as they divided the Bob Jones University crowd on Saturday night in SC. With Thompson out of the race, Huckabee probably has a clear path to winning Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and Missouri on Super Tuesday….possibly even Florida if Giuliani doesn’t completely implode and splits the “moderate” vote with McCain.

    “Had Romney been knocked out in Michigan I think Thompson would have probably won South Carolina on the basis of sealing enough of the conservative vote.”

    ROTFLMAO. Thompson wasn’t gonna win anywhere this year except Tenneessee. He could only fare 16% in arguably the most conservative state in America…right in his own backyard.

    “Right now the conservative vote is split between Thompson and Romney.”

    Which could help Willard’s chances among NORTHERN Republicans, but as long as Bubba Huckabee’s on the ballot appealing to evangelicals, Willard needs an inside straight to get the nomination. He’s not out of the running given the size of his bank account, but the near-term geography does not serve him well.

    “In the end, South Carolina spells the death of the Huckabee campaign.”

    Only if he comes in a distant fourth in Florida….which is less likely with Thompson out of the race. Your spin is so other-dimensional that you should buy a ticket to the science fiction movie playing in your head.

    “The dynamics of the race are changing, and they’re not changing in a way that’s at all helpful to Mike Huckabee.”

    You could not be further from the truth. Thompson voters are a natural Huckabee constituency. Southerners vote for Southerners, Jay. And with Giuliani on the brink of extinction and Willard facing an electoral map that is decidedly unfavorable, Huckabee is poised to become the anti-McCain candidate. That could be a very good place to be if you’re a Republican running for President.