Everybody seems to have Mike Huckabee on the brain today. As he pulls up nearly even with John McCain in South Carolina leading up to the primary there tomorrow, political writers are trying to understand what voters are thinking about the Baptist bass player. Do the Evangelicals matter? Don't they? Will they even vote for him? It's a Huckanundrum!
• David Brooks reminds us that it can be looked at pretty simply: "It is no accident that the major candidates in the Republican field are a pastor, a businessman and a war hero. These are the three most evocative Republican leadership models." [NYT]
• But Rich Lowry says that this appeal as a pastor has begun cooling with non-Evangelicals. And now that it's becoming clearer that he lacks the planning to impress voters with his policy ideas. [NYP]
• And Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel says, Evangelicals themselves don't seem as convinced by the Huckster lately. She cites polls in South Carolina that indicate the religious right is becoming more independent on how it thinks and votes, choosing more based on the issues than it used to. [WSJ]
• Which means that moderate religious voters might begin to be alienated by Huckabee's sometimes extreme views, like that homosexuality is akin to bestiality, points out Katrina Vanden Huevel. [Nation]
• And one can't forget that Huckabee has racked up one serious enemy: Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh's been complaining about how Huckabee and McCain are breaking up the Reagan coalition of support. And once Rush starts in, anybody's in for a long haul. [The Plank/New Republic]
We're wondering what must be going through Huckabee's head right now. All of these weighty opinions spell trouble for him. Which we're sure he'd spend a lot of time worrying about, if he wasn't still doing so well, you know, with voters.
Poll: McCain and Huckabee Neck and Neck in South Carolina [Talking Points Memo]