In the latest Gallup Poll released Friday, Mike Huckabee is the GOP leader, ahead of 16 other presidential prospects. Regardless of what’s being polled, who’s doing the polling or how the question is asked, among Republicans Huckabee typically finishes on top.
Poll the early primary states, and the former Arkansas governor is winning. Match up any of the 2012 contenders with President Barack Obama, and Huckabee usually runs strongest.
For a potential candidate who doesn’t do a whole lot of actual campaigning — and who most insiders believe will not run for the White House — Huckabee occupies a surprisingly dominant position.
“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,” wrote Tom Jensen of the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling in January. “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.”
He has run for president before, but so has former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who doesn’t perform nearly as well in the polls. Some point to Huckabee’s nonthreatening persona and sunny demeanor. Others see his placement in a unique position at the intersection of conservative politics, media and faith — a former preacher, Huckabee now hosts his own show on Fox — as the key to his polling success.
The primary knock against Huckabee is that he hasn’t shown any capacity to raise money at the level demanded by a presidential campaign and that there is no path to victory for a self-branded social issues warrior as long as the economy remains the dominant political issue.