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January 09, 2008

Huck's Not Grabbing A Majority Of Evanglicals

I always thought this was relatively obvious but, lest evangelicals be blamed or feel picked upon, might as well note it explictly:

A little more good news, per Jonathan Garthwaite: Huck actually split the evangelical vote evenly last night with McCain and Romney. You canít call one sample a trend but if he tanks with evangelicals in Michigan, too, it might be evidence that the constant attacks from talk radio are starting to soften his religious base.

Huck's never had all of the evangelicals. Not even close. What he has is a sizable fraction of them, which allows him to win or at least place strongly in a very fractured field. 35% of evangelicals is enough to win in a state with a lot of evangelicals if the rest of the voters are dividing up, somewhat evenly, between three or four candidates.

Why do 35-50% of evangelicals support this shameless, shady, dishonest doofus? Some actually just like his liberal economics -- not everyone is in the GOP for free trade and low taxes, after all. Some don't care about economics or law and order or the war at all and just want a pro-life candidate. Nothing wrong with that, per se, though they really ought to consider that a guy who gets less than 40% of the national vote on election day doesn't get to appoint Supreme Court justices. (Unless, of course, he's Bill Clinton.) Some respond, as many voters do, to charisma and likability, and were his pandering and hypocrisy not so transparent to me, I might say he's got both of those in spades. And some are, as a lot of people are, more or less uninformed dopes who think he's funny and "seems like a good guy" and who their pastor had a good word for. And who are so unworldly and naive as to believe him when he says he doesn't want to run negative ads but then, goshdarnit, keeps seeming to run negative ads. But they're not negative, really -- look, he's smiling. He looks like a happy little cherub.

It's not that evangelicals are a homogeneous bloc. It's that there are enough of them in the party who like Huck for a variety reasons -- a general leftwingish bent on all issues except social issues, single-issue motivation, and lack of the recommended daily dose of skepticism and cynicism -- that he can get enough of them to be a contender when the rest of dividing more or less evenly among a bevy of non-goofball candidates.

So it's not evangelicals to blame for the Huckster. Rather it's just bad circumstances, a race in which there are four plausible candidates each with a legitimate shot of winning. And as of yet the field isn't winnowing. Even Giuliani, who seems to be tanking badly, has no reason to exit the election before he can try for the big prizes of California, New York, and New Jersey.

It's the Culture, Stupid: Slublog's excellent post last week about Huckabee's hold on the culture warriors.

I'm kind of split between being a CW and an S-P so I don't really care. (I'm mocking O'Reilly here, guys. "S-P." It's like he's reduced politics to high-school texting codes, kthnxbai.)

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posted by Ace at 04:44 PM

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