January 3, 2008

Huckabee Wins Iowa!

Mike Huckabee beat Mitt Romney in Iowa tonight by 9 percentage points. This means he won by over 10,000 votes. Here are the latest results, with 96% of the precincts reporting:

Huckabee 34
Romney 25
Thompson 13
McCain 13
Paul 10
Giuliani 3
Real Clear Politics covers Mike's victory speech:
Mike Huckabee, whose insurgent, under-funded and at times ignored campaign pulled out a big win in Iowa's first caucuses, told a crowded ballroom at the downtown Embassy Suites tonight that while the journey begins here in Iowa, there is still a long way to go. "Tonight, it starts here in Iowa, but it doesn't end here. It goes all the way through the other states and ends at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," he said. "I'm amazed, and I'm encouraged."

"I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to love a state as much as my home state of Arkansas. But tonight, I love Iowa," Huckabee said. "The people of Iowa made a choice, and their choice was clear. Their choice was for a change."

The campaign, vastly outspent by Mitt Romney and outside interest groups, overcame the constant barrage with the aide of undecided voters who broke to Huckabee, manager Chip Saltsman said. Huckabee alluded to being so vastly outspent to those in the ballroon. "Tonight, I hope we will forever change the way Americans look at the way their political system worked," he said. ""People really are more important than the purse. And what a great lesson for America to learn."
If you followed the mainstream media's election coverage tonight, then you may appreciate this column by Matthew Continetti from the Weekly Standard:
This New York Times news analysis of Huckabee's rise is informative, but also a little odd. Mike Huckabee just won a 9-point victory in the Iowa Republican caucuses without spending much money, having little organization, and possessing vulnerabilities on a variety of issues (taxes, foreign policy "inexperience," and the like). But Times reporter Patrick Healy's first instinct is to compare Huckabee to ... Pat Robertson, who finished second in Iowa in 1988.

Sorry, but second place isn't a nine-point victory. Just ask Mitt Romney. To make matters more confusing, Healy restates Huckabee's vulnerabilities:

"Mr. Huckabee lacks teams of political veterans in New Hampshire, South Carolina and the states with primaries to follow - certainly nothing to match the operations Mr. McCain, the winner of the 2000 New Hampshire primary, and Mr. Romney, who hails from neighboring Massachusetts, have spent a year building.

And Mr. Huckabee's recent missteps, like a bungled negative advertising attack and his misstatements about Pakistan and immigration, and his paucity of foreign policy experience will be grist for his rivals."

Thing is, Huckabee had those same vulnerabilities in Iowa. He leaves Iowa as the only Republican presidential candidate to win a caucus or primary (so far). Yes, New Hampshire likes to vote differently from Iowa, and there are fewer religious conservatives in the Granite State. But what's to stop Huckabee from overcoming those obstacles, just as he overcame the obstacles that faced him in Iowa?

I'm not sure anyone fully understands what Huckabee's victory means, other than suggesting that social conservatives prefer a candidate they can laugh with and trust on the issues most important to them. But I am sure there's little historical precedent in the GOP for a victory of this scope for a candidate who came out of nowhere.

Well, almost nowhere.
And finally, Michael Medved is gloating over the Huckabee victory in his latest column at Townhall. But you know what... we think Michael has more than earned the right to gloat:
I know it’s not polite to gloat, but….

I’ve taken so much abuse for my favorable reaction to Mike Huckabee from callers to my radio show, e-mailers, audiences at lectures, comments on my blog, letter-writers and countless others, that it’s tough not to feel some sense of vindication on the outcome of the Iowa Caucuses. Last night, some 18 hours before a single vote was counted (or even cast), I anticipated the results of the GOP contest and concluded with the following fearless prediction on yesterday’s blog….

My best guess: the Huck wins the battle by more than one or two points… possibly even a lot more.

So, who was right about that one?

In fact, who was the first national commentator --a full five months ago-- to declare that Huckabee would emerge as a top tier candidate? Governor Huckabee himself has acknowledged that I was the first guy in the media to take his campaign seriously.

The point to remember is that all those who dismissed Huckabee as a one-dimensional candidate who appeals exclusively to Evangelicals ought to look closely at the numbers and the enthusiasm he inspired in Iowa.

I believe he won in part due to the fact that he came across as the sunniest, most likeable, least angry candidate in the bunch. Obama’s victory also indicates that voters didn’t buy anger, rage, indignation – they preferred the most positive, uplifting, cheerful of the candidates.

The irony here is that Mitt Romney (a genuinely nice guy, with a winning, affable, good-humored demeanor) could have easily competed with Huck in the niceness department, but his ill-considered consultants pushed him to turn mean – blanketing the state with negative TV ads (he’s doing the same to McCain in New Hampshire) and viciously irresponsible hit pieces in the mail. Didn’t President Reagan, the appropriate inspiration for all present day Republicans, prove once and for all that kindness and good humor work better than anger, edge and gloom?

The Huckabee victory (again, mirrored by Obama’s impressive success) shows that political establishments don’t always win, that message can beat money, that performance (in televised debates) can defeat packaging (in endlessly repeated attack ads).

Even those who despise Huckabee ought to admit that in the wake of Iowa’s boffo opening act, the whole process feels more open, less locked down and mechanical, than ever before.

And remember: I told you so.
Read the whole thing...

1 comment:

melanie said...

We all know that if Romney hadn't been the wrong religion in some people's eyes, Huckabee wouldn't have had a chance.

Huckabee doesn't have people's interest at heart-he's about himself. He didn't take the high road on negative campaigning- he got slyer. Personally I'm tired of his Harvyard/Shipyard slams. Every chance he gets he has a slam on Romney's wealth. But guess what, you're trying to raise him $. Sure seems like he needs a purse as well?

Sorry folks but Huckabee reminds me of a former president that also liked to be seen playing a musical instrument, we all know what he turned out to be-a player...