Your Current GOP 2012 Frontrunner: Mike Huckabee?

Quite improbably, Mike Huckabee seems to be positioned at the top of the GOP field right now. The only question is whether he really wants to run for President again.

As improbable as it might seem, at the moment, Mike Huckabee is the frontrunner in the race for the 2012 GOP nomination:

Mike Huckabee is in a position most politicians would die for.

In the latest Gallup Poll released Friday, he’s the Republican 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.

Who is best liked? Mike Huckabee.

Whom do Fox News viewers favor? Mike Huckabee.

Who does the South want to be president? Mike Huckabee.

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.”

Now, to be fair, the Gallup poll that Politico refers to in this article shows the same thing that most other recent polls have shown. Namely, a Republican race with Huckabee, Romney, Palin and Gingrich knotted at the top and Romney and Huckabee usually within no more than 4 or 5 percentage points. In fact, Gallup says there really isn’t a front runner:

There is no clear front-runner for the 2012 Republican nomination, which is a departure from what it has been in years prior to a presidential election. Huckabee may be the closest thing to a front-runner at this point, but he has yet to hold a statistically significant lead in any survey. But his candidacy, as well as that of Sarah Palin, is far from assured.

Romney would apparently benefit more from Huckabee’s sitting out the race than from Palin’s doing so, and he would move to the front of the field (though not by a statistically significant margin) if neither Huckabee nor Palin runs.

All of this underscores the current wide-open nature of the race, which could eventually find some structure in the coming months as the potential candidates make official decisions about entering the race, begin to campaign in earnest, and face each other in a series of scheduled debates starting in May.

Despite this, though, it’s consistently been the case the Huckabee is the only prospective Republican candidate, outside of that mythical candidate the “Generic Republican,” who beats President Obama in head-to-head poling. And, he has the political connections in Iowa and throughout the South that would make a second campaign far easier than the first. However, there’s just one thing; nobody seems to know if he wants to run this time.

The question of whether Huckabee would actually enter the race has been up in the air for months now. Many have speculated that he was enjoying his time at Fox News Channel far too much to give it up for another two years of fundraising and stump speeches, and he’s certainly given plenty of signals that could be interpreted as a reluctance to enter the race. Nonetheless, in his most recent comments, to Kevin McCullough, he said “I am very much still considering a run for the White House.” So, don’t count Huckabee out just yet, especially as the evidence continues to mount that, if he ran, he’d be in a very good position to win.


FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Flag Gazer says:

    The Republicans and their “I lost last time so you should give me the nomination” candidates.
    Please, can’t we do better? He can not beat Obama.

  2. So much for that party of smaller government thing.

  3. ponce says:

    he first GOP primary debate is scheduled for May 7 at the Ronald Reagan Library.

    Will anyone show up?

  4. wr says:

    Cain will. And that guy from New Mexico no one has ever heard of. Possibly Michele Bachmann. Tremble, Democrats.

  5. Moosebreath says:

    Also significantly, unlike President Obama, none of the leading Republicans’ polling is in net favorable territory link. Tremble, indeed.

  6. CK says:

    Is the modal Republican primary voter smart enough to realize that Mitch Daniels decisively won reelection to the governorship of Indiana in the annus horribilis of 2006?

    I wouldn’t bet on it.

  7. deathcar2000 says:

    Teh Huckelby seems like a truley nice fellow. why i would love to have a beer and some bar-b-que with him.

    but if he was to become the prez i would get the sad 🙁

  8. Barry says:

    CK says:

    “Is the modal Republican primary voter smart enough to realize that Mitch Daniels decisively won reelection to the governorship of Indiana in the annus horribilis of 2006?”

    And proceeded to demonstrate that touch which marked him as a former Bush II administration official?

  9. The Gipper says:

    Don`t look now, but here comes Michele Bachmann, pretty (looks French) and poised to take Iowa if Huckabee and Palin stay home. Run, Michele, Run! Help re-elect the President.