It was only a matter of time before John McCain’s support started cratering: his whole appeal was his independence, so when he sacrificed that, it figured to erode his standing. Combine that with his uber-hawkish position on Iraq, and it’s no surprise that he is rapidly losing popularity.
Who fills the gap? Not Mitt Romney: his flip-flopping on social issues will, I believe, seriously injure him both in Republican primaries and with the GOP elite. He’s damaged goods. Not Rudy Giuliani, who at least is more honest than Romney about his positions, but as Stuart Rothenberg persuasively argues, kills him with the Republican base.
Who does that leave?
Meet Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. He’s a Baptist minister, conservative enough for the base, outsider enough for the electorate, and he carries the argument that he can work across the aisle. He’s an outstanding politician, and will be able to make the outsider argument better than anyone else in the field. Put another way, he’s the George W. Bush of 2008. In fact, I think his whole argument will be about changing the tone in Washington.
Yes, I know: it was garbage when Bush said it, and it’s garbage when Huckabee says it. But that doesn’t matter.
The Republicans aren’t stupid, and they are still a tightly organized ship. They will look for someone who is right-wing but doesn’t really seem like it. That’s Huckabee, and given everyone else’s flaws, they will, I believe, turn to him. The key is whether he can get funding.
If it happens, you heard it here first. The 2008 Republican nominee will be Mike Huckabee, and he will be a formidable challenger. We’d better start the opposition research now.