Huckabee Wins GOP
Popularity Contest

November 18th, 2010 at 12:06 pm David Frum | 14 Comments |

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Something likely to be overlooked in Nate Silver’s post today on the favorability/unfavorability ratings of national political figures:  Michael Huckabee is the least unpopular of the top four Republican presidential candidates. Huckabee is +16, versus +9 for Romney, -10 for Gingrich, and -14 for Palin. As a benchmark, President Obama stands at +6, George W. Bush at -9, Dick Cheney at -17.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • DFL

    I can see the 2012 Barack Obama reelection campaign barraging the air waves with commercials blasting Huckabee for 999 pardons as governor. Cop killer and Huckabee pardonee Maurice Clemmons will become as ubiquitous on TV as Willie Horton in 1988. Que sera, sera.

  • Bryan Hair

    I would love to see where Jeb Bush would fall in this category. In 43′s recent interview with Fox News, he was playig the name game..when Jeb’s name was mentioned, President Bush replied “Should be running for President, but isn’t.” I think it would be interesting to see how he rates based on his name..and then based on his achievements as Governor.

  • CentristNYer

    DFL // Nov 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    “I can see the 2012 Barack Obama reelection campaign barraging the air waves with commercials blasting Huckabee for 999 pardons as governor.”

    You’re thinking like Lee Atwater. The Dems are neither that cutthroat nor that skillful (which is why they just lost the House when they should have kept it).

  • easton

    Disagree with him as I may on the issues I like him a great deal personally, he has more charm, humor, and charisma than Romney and none of the hatefulness of Palin and Gingrich. Actually, after Obama I find him to be the next best public speaker around today. (and please don’t say Palin is a good public speaker, unless you like the sound of two cats raping each other)

    DFL: I hope I am wrong but I don’t see these kind of attacks sticking. Liberals won’t condemn him for his pardons and Conservatives will be in a tough position to fault a Christian who for them as well since it was motivated out of a sense of Christian forgiveness and charity. He has a bit of a teflon coating. I don’t know if he can win outside of the south or midwest prarie states in the Republican primaries though.

  • anniemargret

    Easton: I agree with you about Huckabee having more charm and a bon vivant personality, along with a semblance of humility as opposed to the self-adulating Palin and nasty lying Gingrich.

    My only concern is that he is overtly religious. Can he lead this country without injecting too much religiosity in it? Remember when Kennedy won and millions of Americans were going into a faint because he was a Roman Catholic? and those were days when politicians didn’t wear their beliefs on their sleeves. Kennedy pre-empted all the fuss and bother about his deep Catholic faith by simply saying he would be the POTUS not a Catholic President…and he followed through.

    No doubt Kennedy turned inward to his faith perhaps during difficult times of decision, but he never allowed his Catholicism be a dominant theme of his administration. Can Huckabee do the same?

    If he can, he is extremely likeable and certainly he has leadership abilities- definitely electable and can give Obama a run for his money.

    If Republicans choose him over Romney, that could be better for their party overall, given Romney’s penchant for flip-flops and willow the wisp decisions based on political winds.

  • DFL

    Huckabee has a lack of noticeable Southern drawl, which may help him outside the South. Yet, his being a Baptist minister damages him with too many groups nationwide. I can’t see him defeating President Obama. For instance, I think Huckabee would lose to Obama in Virginia even with McDonnell as VP.

    For future reference, I believe Obama will be reelected if he can win Virginia. Using the current Electoral College figures, I have Obama 278-247 without calling Virginia for either. Since the new Electoral College will reflect a net gain of maybe 11 to the Republicans, winning Virginia becomes paramount for Obama.

  • Diomedes

    and please don’t say Palin is a good public speaker, unless you like the sound of two cats raping each other


    Good one easton.

  • dugfromthearth

    Huckabee is going to be the GOP nominee in 2012. He is both the anti-Romney and the anti-Palin, and he is so likable there is no anti-Huckabee.

  • anniemargret

    dugfromtheearth: Well, if Obama has to win over somebody, let it be Huckabee. At least he will have the good graces in defeat, given he is a decent person. :-)

  • dugfromthearth

    that’s the thing anniemargret – Huckabee has crazy beliefs (he believes in a god for instance) but he is nice. He wants to help people. I may disagree with all of his positions but I do not think he is motivated by personal glory or power or wants to harm “enemies”.

    I can see people trying to make attacks on Huckabee, but I think they will backfire. In a multi-candidate primary anyone attacking Huckabee will just look like a jerk and hurt themselves. Only when it comes down to two will attacks on him be possible. And then as the anti- candidate he will have the support from the majority who dislike the other (be it Romney or Palin, my bet is Romney).

  • jakester

    Whatever happened to those old Knickerbocker NE elite type GOPers. Now all we have left is crackpots and barefoot preachers.

  • armstp

    Misreading the midterm tea leaves

    By Cliff Young and Julia Clark

    Yes, this was a Republican Year. From lowly dogcatcher to the venerable Senate and House, the GOP made significant gains. But how should the results of this electoral cycle be interpreted? Are we seeing the emergence of a “new Republican mandate” which will sweep away the Obama project because of his policy oversteps? Or is this merely the short-term expression of voter angst, precipitated by a dismal economy?

    Pundits and politicos alike would have us believe that the Obama era is over, with the general elections in 2012 being a mere formality to an imminent Republican resurgence. Obama went too far left, or so the argument goes, and the Republican gains this year are a leading indicator of a re-adjustment.

    In our view, this perspective is fundamentally wrong: the results of the present mid-term elections have little to do with the probable outcome of the general election in 2012. Obama, contrary to the expert opinion, is still very much in the driver’s seat. Here’s why.

    First, most elections are about voter optimism (or lack thereof). Low optimism is usually the result of the economy doing poorly, and so people want to “throw the bums out.” We pollsters call such elections “change elections,” which favor the party out of power. In contrast, when optimism is high, voters want “more of the same,” or continuity. Continuity elections favor the party in power. Our own studies of hundreds of elections around the world show that about 80 percent of all elections can be classified according to this simple “change versus continuity” dichotomy, with the other 20 percent depending on the effectiveness of campaigns and the power of personalities.

    The 2010 electoral cycle, with the poorest performing economy in a generation, was a change election which favored the party out of power – the Republicans. This means that there was no fundamental shift in American values, or a “new Republican mandate,” but instead that the election was the result of the natural ebbs and flows of voter sentiment, driven by larger economic forces.

    Indeed, our polling shows that policy specifics tend to take on only secondary or tertiary roles in voter calculus compared to simple pocketbook issues and associated relative degree of optimism. Of course it isn’t always about the economy – events like wars, scandals, and other unforeseen wildcards do play a role in defining voters’ desire for change or continuity. The economy, though, typically is the most consistent factor, with the 2010 midterm elections being no exception.

    Second, by this very logic, Obama’s relative odds for retaining the White House will depend on voter desire for change or continuity. We believe that, even now at this nadir, Obama is the favorite for several reasons:

    (a) Barring a major external economic shock or some other random act of God, all projections suggest that the economy will begin to pick up steam. Economic projections put the unemployment rate at about 6.7 percent on average for 2012-2014, a sharp drop from today’s rate of over 9 percent. Our polling shows that a declining unemployment rate is the number-one signal for voters that the economy is improving. 2012, in other words, should be a year of positive signals. We may not be talking about a booming economy but at the very least it should be a superior economic situation when compared to today.

    (b) Even given this terrible economic environment, Obama would still be in a strong position to take the White House in 2012. Why? First, according to our models, the very fact that Obama is an incumbent means he is about three times more likely than all challengers—from either party—to win. And second, even with a tepid 45 percent approval rating, Obama has a 71 percent chance of taking the White House, and an 84 percent chance if his numbers go to 50 percent.

    What are the implications of our analysis? From a political perspective, Obama should be less worried about his legislative laurels and more about the jobs numbers–though making some effort on deficit reduction would be an important bullet-point for his economic resume going into the 2012 election.

    Republicans, in contrast, are running against the economic clock – a bad economic environment in 2010 may be a good one in 2012. As a starting point, re-framing the economic policy debate in their favor would help them get at least some credit for the improving numbers in 2012.

    All in all, political analysts should be wary of committing the age-old logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc, which assumes that an outcome is caused by an event simply because one follows the other. In our opinion, the 2010 Republican gains say very little about Obama’s prospects in 2012.

    Cliff Young and Julia Clark are pollsters at Ipsos Public Affairs

  • dmnolan

    “…Willow the Wisp…”?

  • Arms Merchant