Huckabee Wins West Virginia Caucus
Mike Huckabee has won the West Virginia Caucus.
The former Arkansas governor won with the support of 52 percent of the state’s GOP convention delegates on the second round of balloting. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came in second with 47 percent of the vote, and Sen. John McCain was backed by 1 percent of the delegates.
Romney was ahead in the first round of voting in Charleston but failed to get the majority needed to win.
It appeared as though supporters of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who placed a distant third on the first ballot, moved over to Huckabee, helping him to carry the day.
I predicted a McCain win, based on the limited polling I’d seen, but noted that “it wouldn’t shock me if he picked up another state somewhere in the Deep South or West Virginia.” Given the caucus format, that’s doubly true.
What’s interesting is that McCain’s supporters went to Huckabee on the second ballot. It had been my hunch, based on the fact that McCain and Huckabee have gone out of their way to attack Romney but be nice to one another, that this would be the case. This defies the view of many Romney supporters, though, who have been claiming that Huckabee was essentially a spoiler who was splitting the “conservative” vote. My guess is that most evangelicals are also security voters and are unlikely to go for a prominent member of a religion they view as a cult.
UPDATE: Commenter Michael offers a plausible counter-analysis: “McCain told them to vote for Huckabee to keep Romney from winning. If the second round came down to McCain and Romney, the Huckabee delegates could very likely have broken for Romney.”
I don’t know if we’ll ever know for sure, since there’s no obvious reason to conduct exit polling for a caucus. Presumably, though, we’ll find out about the larger dynamic from other races and/or the post-Huckabee withdrawal polls.