Mike Huckabee and the GOP
Daniel Larison is a bit too charitable here in assessing Mike Huckabee’s finish in last year’s presidential primaries:
While Huckabee was officially the second-biggest vote-getter in the primaries last year, he achieved this mostly through perseverance and concentrated support from evangelical voters. Had Romney continued to compete and waste his money on what would still have been a losing bid, it is not certain that Huckabee could have managed his second place finish.
In fact, the 2008 Republican race wasn’t even a contest. Mitt Romney quit the race during CPAC on February 7 and pledged his delegates to McCain. Rudy Giuliani had failed to make his push in Florida — coming in way behind Romney, who finished second. The race was over.
Except that, technically, it wasn’t. Huckabee stayed in the race, along with Ron Paul, despite no chance of beating John McCain for the nomination. As a result, they padded their totals as everyone not happy with McCain as the nominee had to vote for one of them. And, really, since Paul was a fringe candidate, that meant Huckabee.
The results, per CNN, are at right.
The fact of the matter was that Huckabee, a virtual unknown at the beginning of the contest, was mostly a stalking horse. Huckabee finally withdrew on March 5, once McCain mathematically sewed up the race on his own — that is, not counting Romney’s delegates. As I wrote at the time:
But let’s not get carried away, either. He’s a personable fellow who went a long way with very little money, a weak organization, and zero Establishment support. But there was no time in this race when it was plausible that he’d be the nominee. He won Iowa as the “anybody but Mitt Romney” candidate in a contest McCain, Giuliani, and others skipped. He didn’t win again until garbage time, when he was running as “the conservative alternative” to a man who had all but sewn up the nomination.
Huckabee will not win the nomination in 2012. Or 2016. Or 2020. He’d easily win a Senate seat from Arkansas if he changes his mind. But he’s not going to be elected president.
I stand by that assessment.