Saturday, August 11, 2007

Congratulations to Mike Huckabee -- Ames Straw Poll

The paragraph below is one I wrote Saturday night, after the results from the Ames Straw Poll were in. You should also look at the material following it, because it says a lot about the American media.

Congratulations to Mike Huckabee for his very strong showing (second place to MoneyBags Mitt) in the Ames (Iowa) Straw Poll. He now needs to reach out to new contributors -- and new supporters. Gov. Romney is trying to erect political firewalls in Iowa and New Hampshire and, for Mike to get the nomination, he needs to break through and win at least one of those states (Iowa?). He also needs to win, or at least come very close, in South Carolina's primary (presumably held on January 19, 2008). Ten days later, he would also have to do well in Florida, perhaps by concentrating his resources on carrying the "Little Dixie" segment in the Florida Panhandle. He should also reach out to Cuban-Americans. This is a truly tall order! He's running against some fine men, a couple of whom have a lot of campaign cash. The key to winning in politics is to look like a winner and act like one. Mike is doing those things. Overall, he might have a hard time winning the traditional "suburban Republicans," so he needs to cultivate groups that other candidates might undervalue. He should continue differentiating himself on the issues of poverty (heck, quote the Gospel of Matthew!), the environment, and education.

Much of the media covered the results of the Ames Straw Poll as a win for Romney (which it was), as well as a strong showing by Mike Huckabee. However, here's the lead paragraph from an Associated Press reporter in a story headlined "Mitt's Iowa Push Pays Early Dividend": "Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won an easy and expected victory in a high-profile Iowa Republican Party Straw Poll on Saturday, claiming nearly twice as many votes as his nearest rival."

Romney's votes added up to 31.5%, while Huckabee got 18.1%. I don't know how the AP does math, but 31.5 is NOT nearly twice as many votes as 18.1. In the story, Huckabee gets one brief mention in the first 12 paragraphs, whereas Tommy Thompson -- who performed very poorly -- got two paragraphs out of the first six.

Some of Mike Huckabee's backers will see what I've just described as the same old media manipulation. In fact, it may be more a reflection of media laziness, or sloppiness.

In Iowa, Romney spent between $2 million and $4 million. In contrast, Mike Huckabee spent at most $150,000. Perhaps that's the real story from Iowa: how few votes Romney got for so much money spent.

The media may not especially like Mitt Romney, but they probably identify with him because he looks and talks like "one of them." On the other hand, Mike Huckabee is an Arkansan in manner and accent, as well as a man who's served as a Southern Baptist preacher. Frankly, the media probably doesn't know what to make of Mike -- and probably remembers him best as the guy who raised his hand to signify that he didn't believe in evolution.

What does Mitt Romney think about evolution? Throughout most of its history, the Mormon Church was very hostile to the theory of evolution. (A family member of mine majored in zoology at BYU in the 1970s, so I happen to know a lot about this issue.) Nowadays, the Mormon Church seems to resolve the evolution issue by remaining silent about it.

The media doesn't have to undergo a conversion to conservatism. However, it does have to provide reporting that reflects reality. The truth is that Mike Huckabee did well in Iowa, and that portends well for his political future.

Note: On CNN, Joe Johns (a welcome substitute for the mindless Wolf Blitzer) asked: "Who's getting out of the race?" The Three Republican guests (David Dreier, Jim Tallent, and Buddy Roemer) wouldn't answer. I'll answer by saying who should get out of the race: Tommy Thompson, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback, and Ron Paul. Most of them will not depart soon (aside from Thompson), and Ron Paul will not leave until Super Tuesday (Feb. 5). Hunter, Tancredo, and Brownback will go through the motions until after Labor Day, but you can safely stick in a form in them. They're done. Now, the race is between Giuliani, McCain, Romney, and Huckabee.


D.Roman said...

Thanks for the positive article on Gov. Huckabee. We will be posting our Sarah Palin article later today.

Larry Perrault said...

Did you see Brownback, last night or this morning on ABC? I can't figue out what's up with this guy, which affirms why I nver had any inclination to support him in the first place. He made his campaign all about life, and attacked Romney on it. Now he spent mor money and ferried in busloads...and he lost. But, he's all about going on to the caucuses. Is he about consolidating the pro-life contingency in the face of the media-assisted *and dubious) candidates? Or is he about Sam Brownback. He's fast losing what respect I had for him.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

D. Roman and Larry: Mike did very well in Ames. Now, the hard part begins, although I think he will raise a great deal more money now than he did in the first and second quarters. If he can raise $4 million in the third quarter and get his poll numbers up in some of the early primary states he could pull this out. Larry: I have no idea what Brownback is up to. His Ames showing may be his high water mark, and it wasn't impressive for a candidate from a neighboring state. Turnout in Ames was down, partly because Rudy, John, and Fred stayed out. I don't know what Fred is up to, but if he wants to run for President he'd better hurry up.

Larry Perrault said...

I'm just exasperated with Brownback. But, perhaps it's hard to exrcise the spirit that makes you run for president. He's from a neighboring state and spent and bussed in way more...and he lost. What's his plan? I don't think he has anything else to give. All he can do is be a drag on another conservative.