A new Research 2000 Iowa poll puts Huckabee in the lead by 7 points:
A new Lee Enterprises/Research 2000 statewide survey of likely caucus goers in Iowa (conducted 12/26 through 12/27) finds:The Sioux City Journal provides some additional details on the poll:
• Among 500 likely Republican caucus goers, former Gov. Mike Huckabee leads former Gov. Mitt Romney (34% to 27%) in a statewide caucus, former Sen. Fred Thompson trails at 11%, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Ron Paul all trail at 8%.
There is plenty of room for shifts in the final days before the Jan. 3 caucuses, with 31 percent of Republicans saying they are likely or very likely to change their minds.The New York Times debunks Mitt Romney's latest attack ad on their blog:
The Republican race is more stable at the top, with Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, gaining 3 points since the poll two weeks ago, and Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, gaining 5 points.
Notably, Huckabee's numbers have risen despite weeks of relentless attacks from Romney and other opponents. However Romney has narrowed the gap from the previous poll from 9 points to 7 points.
The shifts in the Republican race appear to be driven by movement of undecided voters to one of the top two candidates, with undecided voters dropping from 12 percent to 3 percent between the two polls.
Mitt Romney is out on Friday with his third television ad attacking his Republican rival Mike Huckabee in Iowa, this time hitting him on the full range of issues Mr. Romney has been bringing up on the stump about his opponent — immigration, crime, foreign policy and spending.Read the whole thing...
With a week to go to the caucuses on Jan. 3, Mr. Romney’s campaign has clearly decided they must continue to engage Mr. Huckabee if they are to close the gap he has over Mr. Romney in the polls.
But Mr. Romney’s latest ad contains some misleading information on Mr. Huckabee’ spending record. Mr. Romney says in the commercial that Mr. Huckabee is “soft on government spending” and took the state budget from $6 billion to $16 billion while he was governor of Arkansas, citing an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Fred D. Thompson, another Republican presidential hopeful, has also mentioned the figures while attacking Mr. Huckabee on the stump.
But a check with the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration reveals the figures are erroneous. In addition, a comparison of annual spending growth, adjusted for inflation, between Mr. Romney’s four-year term as governor of Massachusetts and Mr. Huckabee’s ten-year tenure in Arkansas shows the difference between the two is hardly dramatic.
“Without knowing the exact circumstances in Arkansas, it doesn’t seem like a dramatic difference,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
Mike Stormes, administrator for fiscal and budget in the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, agreed.
“My reaction is that given the many vagaries inherent in state budget cost drivers, these numbers are not significant and are fairly typical for the years in question,” he said.
And the Los Angeles Times published a good article today called Huckabee Speaks Without Speechifying:
Some compare him to Reagan in the way he spins tales, especially stories about everyday people.Read the whole article...
Mary Kathryn Shouse is part of the Mike Huckabee surge, having newly decided that the homespun former Arkansas governor is "the whole package" of policy and Christian values. And it doesn't hurt that he delivers a speech without seeming like he's delivering a speech.
"I felt that he was very in tune with his audience and that he was speaking to me, and not over my head," Shouse, 42, said a few minutes after the GOP presidential candidate finished a 45- minute talk at a banquet hall in this town hugging the Mississippi River. "I thought it was very comfortable."
If Huckabee's campaign has a secret weapon, it could well be the candidate's gifts as a communicator. Using Southern charm and storytelling, Huckabee's stump speech is more entertainment than oratory. Sharp jabs are cloaked by a smile and a joke, and offered in a cadence reminiscent of a warm-talking preacher -- which he has been -- and a radio host -- which he also has been.
Vanessa B. Beasley, who teaches communications at Nashville's Vanderbilt University, traced Huckabee's political use of narratives to President Reagan.
"It evokes emotion, makes people feel like they have some insight into what the candidate really believes," she said. "It sounds a lot like what Ronald Reagan would do, particularly when the star of the story is the civilian, the everyday person who gives the rest of us some profound lesson on civics, or what it means to be a patriot."