Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Could Mike Huckabee Win? Probably Not

Welcome to a new blogger for Palin. His name is Josh, and you can find his blog at: http://earnestexpostulations.blogspot.com/ This movement continues to grow,
and anybody who recognizes what a dynamic candidate Sarah will be is welcome to join.

I urge everyone to read D. Roman's fine piece endorsing Sarah. It's called "The Case for V-P," and you can read it by scrolling down a few columns on: http://TheMaritimeSentry.blogspot.com/ The Sentry is D. Roman, a dedicated Packer fan. The people who back Sarah are a diverse group -- in terms of age, gender, geographic location, religious background, and political philosophy. They all recognize that Sarah can be a force for positive change in our country, just as she has been in her beloved Alaska. "Run, Sarah, run."

I've been having some intense discussions with Mike Huckabee supporters -- many of whom are also Sarah Palin backers -- about various aspects of his candidacy. The overriding question is this: Can Mike Huckabee win in a general election against Hillary Clinton? The answer RIGHT NOW appears to be that Mike, like any other GOP possibility, cannot now win such a race.

(If you think it pains me to say that, you're right.)

My general principle in politics is to avoid any race that's not winnable. My only exception is to participate in races that establish a foundation for winning the next time around, as I did in Diana Lynn Irey's campaign against John Murtha. The fact is that a losing campaign can be more draining of time, energy, and money than a winning one. Take my word for it: winning is a lot more enjoyable than losing.

The Economist magazine, a British publication that reports very insightfully on American politics, has a cover story this week that outlines the problem. It's titled, "Is America Turning Left?" You can read what's essentially a summary of the article by using the following link: http://economist.com/

The specific link to the summary piece is: http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=9621579
To read the entire story, you either have to pay $8.00 for the online version, or go to your local library, or borrow my copy.

Admittedly, a lot of conservatives find me exasperating. I've been associated with the conservative movement for approximately 40 years! But I reject conservative attitudes that I believe lead eventually into the political abyss. For example, I supported the Immigration Reform legislation because I believed that its failure could cost us the Hispanic vote for a generation (as The Economist says it will). I'm against political strategies that win battles at the cost of losing wars.

My history is one of working with conservatives and moderates -- Democrats, female professionals, Blacks, Hispanics, young people, and gays -- who are willing to support conservative (or moderate) Republicans. Mike Huckabee told CNN yesterday that he would welcome "anybody" who would support his campaign, and I have the same philosophy. Any other approach strikes me as mindless.

Here's how The Economist describes the current situation: "Having recaptured Congress last year, the Democrats are on course to retake the presidency in 2008. Only one Republican, Rudy Giuliani, looks competitive in the polls, and his campaign is less slick than those of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama."

The piece continues: "Voters now favour generic Democratic candidates over Republican ones by wide margins. Democrats are more trusted even on traditional conservative issues, such as national security, and they have opened up a wide gap among the young, among independents and among Latinos."

I didn't write the story, but it does sound a lot like my recent observations. For conservatives, it's not a pretty picture.

The situation may be even gloomier than the one The Economist presents. The Clinton and Obama campaigns are much more dynamic and technologically sophisticated -- as well as a lot better at fundraising -- than any we see from Republicans. That also appears to be true of emerging campaigns at the House and Senate levels.

The Economist believes Giuliani looks like the only candidate who can be competitive on a national level. Later this week, I'll write more about Giuliani strategy -- a national one as opposed to the traditional "Red State approach" -- and why I'm impressed by it. In fact, if he wins the nomination, he expects that MOST evangelicals will vote for him, even if reluctantly. However, he seemingly regards the hard-core evangelicals as unreliable and not worth courting.

It's possible -- and you're reading it here first -- that the Republican race could come down to a struggle between Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. For that to happen, Mike would have to raise a great deal more money than he has in recent quarters -- perhaps $5 million in the current third quarter and $10 million in the fourth quarter. For him to raise that kind of money, not huge sums by modern standards, he would have to continue looking like a possible winner.

Mike may become THE conservative candidate embraced by the Republican "base." The Fred Thompson effort is looking more and more like an embarrassment, and there's there's no evidence he can win either the Republican nomination or the general election. The McCain effort has well publicized problems that might be insoluble. As for Mitt Romney, he has spent tens of millions of dollars on his effort and has achieved only 8% in national polls of Republicans.

The great strength of the Huckabee campaign is in the blogs, where you will find his most ardent supporters. The Huckabee site lists most of the blogs supporting him. However, the writers/activists on those blogs also show what might be the campaign's greatest weakness: what I've called a "my-way-or-the-highway" approach.

Some of the bloggers for Mike -- perhaps most of them -- want a statement of ideological purity from him. For example, they're asking him to say that he would reject any offer to be on a ticket headed by Giuliani. I've outlined what I think would be the consequences of Mike's taking such a position: it would destroy his campaign, basically bringing it to an abrupt end.

Mike Huckabee is NOT running to be President of the Bible-Belt, anymore than Rudy Giuliani is running to be President of Urban America. They're both running to be President of the United States, a country containing a multitude of different groups with diverse viewpoints.

If an individual runs as a Republican, he or she accepts the responsibility to support the ticket -- period. If a person can't make that commitment, then he or she could still run for the President. However, it would have to be as an independent.

If Mike were the Republican nominee and the other candidates backed away from him because he was TOO "pro-life" or too associated with the evangelical movement, they would deserve condemnation. They would have undermined his capacity to win.

Ronald Reagan understood this point, with his Eleventh Commandment that "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican." I'm sure he would have applied that to both Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee.

Mike's most ardent supporters are demanding ideological purity from him. Yet that would keep his appeal basically limited to what he has now: the evangelical core. A generous estimate is that Christian evangelicals make up about 20% of the electorate (with 20% -- one-out-of-five -- of that group voting for Democrats, as they did for Kerry in 2004). In a general election, with support coming mainly from evangelicals, Mike probably could not carry Arkansas.

I've kept urging him to reach out to other groups -- including Hispanics, Blacks, women professionals, younger people, and gays. Admittedly, I mention gays in part to goad some of my conservativer brethren. However, there are many conservative gays.

In 2000, George Bush got more than one-in-five gay votes (according to the CNN exit poll). Without thousands of votes from gays in Florida, GWB would have lost that state, and Al Gore presumably would be in the second term of his presidency. A blog like http://gaypatriot.blogspot.com/ is as conservative on almost all issues as any Huckabee-supportive blog.

Roughly 5% of the votes in American elections get cast by people identifying themselves as gays. What if Mike reached out to them (and their many supporters), perhaps by modifying slightly his stand on marriage? For example, he could suggest a solution to the explosive "gay marriage" issue would be for states to follow the lead of Vermont and New Jersey and allow civil unions.

If he did that, there'd probably be a backlash from his evangelical supporters. Some of them might even say Mike had endorsed the (mythical) "gay agenda." A few might even apply to him the dreaded term "RINO." In extreme conservative circles, a RINO is someone who doesn't agree with them on every single issue.

What if Mike reached out to Hispanics, perhaps by promising his running mate would be someone like Linda Chavez? (She was extremely critical of the anti-"amnesty" movement.) If he did something like that, he would run into the reality that many of his evangelical supporters were intense opponents of Immigration Reform.

The irony in all this is that some of the Mike's strongest supporters are unintentionally undermining his efforts. In demanding that he essentially "prove his love" for all their favorite stands, they're painting him into a corner. They're making it extremely difficult for him to build on the level of support he now has.

You can't get votes from a graveyard (unless you live in Chicago) or out of thin air. You have to get them from real people of extremely diverse views -- especially from the political moderates who make up the biggest segment of the American electorate.

Thus, some conservatives believe Rudy can't (or at least, shouldn't) win the Republican nomination because he's too liberal. On the other hand, it may be that Mike can't win it because he's trapped in an ideological cocoon built by evangelicals. As the country turns slightly to the left, noted by The Economist, demands are rising that Mike stay far to the right. That's not fair to him or to the country.

Stephen R. Maloney -- Ambridge, PA

Add-on: Let me be clear: if Mike Huckabee wins the Republican nomination, I would expect Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney to give him full support, including organizational and -- critically -- financial backing. If he believes asking one of them to run with him as vice-president is essential to victory, I expect the offer to be accepted. Without this kind of unified effort, we can't have any expectation of winning. In 2006, Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum ran for re-election as one of the most conservative -- and most pro-life -- members of the Senate. Giuliani gave many speeches in support of Rick and taped ads for him. Senator John McCain also made many appearances for Rick, even though they disagreed on a number of political issues (including immigration reform). Again, without this kind of united stance, it's impossible to beat anybody, especially a relentless campaigner like Mrs. Clinton. "In unity, there is strength." In disunity, there is President Hillary Clinton, not to mention a solidly Democratic Congress. The stakes are high, and we are well behind.

For those interested in the Huckabee campaign who would a somewhat different spin, I strongly recommend "BigCheney's" blog, which provides in the August 14 column some of the most insightful commentary about the effects of the Ames victory. BigCheney is a young teacher in Connecticut, and he blogs at:
http://presidentialpolitics.blogspot.com/ He "likes Mike" and believes he has a good chance to "keep movin' on up."


James H said...

Let me say of course I disagree with that.

I think Huckabee has a lot of cross over appeal.

Now yes some of the bloggers are opinionated. What blogger is not. However once you start looking at Mike Huckabee the man and the Governor ou will see that he takes positions that I probally come into conflict with a one or more positions that a blogger might have.

Forinstance his past statements on immigration indicate he is a lot more open to compromise if the borders are secured than some of the bloggers are.

Money is a concern. However we shall see what happens in the next cycle.

As to Guillnai. Yep he has got the money. But I still think that his main problem(among many) is not only abortion but GUNS.

THe NRA is going to tear him a new one especially in the primaries in the South, In areas of PEnn, Michigan, Vermont, New Hampshire and out West on that Gun Issue. Guillani will have to spend a lot of money combatting that.

Huckabee can win the primary and win the General. Needless to say the next couple of months will be of extreme importance

James H said...

One other thought

I should also state that I would probally take issue with Huckabee on a couple of things. SO I am not just pointing out other bloggers.

As to Guillani we shall see. TO be honest if the choice is him or Hillary Clinton I can't see many conservatives staying home.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Hi James: I notice Rudy hasn't said a whole lot about guns so far. I think the NRA may sit out the Presidential campaign this time around, which would be fine with me. The Rudy strategy is an interesting one and probably marks the end of the Rove era. He believes he can compete in PA, NJ, Ohio (which will be tough to win), and FL (which will be a toughie because of the diminishing of Hispanic support). I may respond again if I can get back to the puter tonight. I've added to the piece, and made some slight modifications. Thanks for visiting.

steve maloney

IC said...

This was a tremendous read.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

James, I'm going to write some on the gun issue but it will be sometime in the fall. If the NRA ends up with Hillary in the White House, along with a Congress with, say, 61-62 Dems in the Senate and 290 in the House they may not like what happens. The NRA is brilliant at political targeting, but as Karl Rove discovered, targeting is not a "magic bullet." Sorry for the pun. It's critical to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, mental cases, young children, and people who sell them on street corners in cities. If the NRA can't handle it, then it qualifies among those "mental cases" mentioned above. I do believe Giuliani can win Pennsylvania and, maybe, Michigan. NH and VT will go for Hillary. Expect not to hear much about guns during the campaign.


Christopher said...

Michael Medved has a wonderful piece out about how conservative Christians would be better served by Gov. Huckabee than Fred Thompson. Huckabee's attitude is wonderful, his humor always hilarious, and he just seems like a nice guy. Plus he has no personal baggage. There's no way on earth, I'd vote for him in the primary but I agree with Medved's comments. I believe the only two Republicans who can win are Rudy Giuliani and John McCain (who I have chosen to support even though his nomination chances are not good). The political climate is not good for Republicans and we must acknowledge that with a moderate choice or lose.

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Christopher, I always welcome your comments, and I agree that Gov. Huckabee comes across as a "nice guy" and a fine man. I think well of Giuliani, McCain, and Huckabee. It now appears Romney is the favorite of the media elite, none of whom would vote for him a general election, but Romney's 8% in national polls is pathetic, given the huge amount of money he's spent, even in a state like PA, where our primary is so late it might not even occur in this decade. Incidentally, I expect Thompson to announce about the fall of 2011, when he will be 71 or so.

Larry Perrault said...

I want to discuss the issue of appealing to gays, but briefly, as you know, I won't vote for any candidate who is so foggy-headed about American principle as to not understand the sanctity of life. That is not a poker chip to bargain with in the interest of winning an election pot If we treat it that way, such pots will soon be not worth the winning. Perhaps a simple analogy would be the prospect of hiring a structural engineer who had not conquered basic mathematics. He will build bridges that I wouldn't be comfortable driving on. And an America that does not recognize the critical value of the sanctity of life, is a society in the process of civil demise.

And briefly about guns: I don't hunt. I don't shoot. It offers me no joy. But, misunderstanding the criticality of the right to bear arms is similarly
naive. And the problem with keeping guns out of the wrong peoples' hands is tat laws can't accomplish it. It's a legal fantasy the sort of which are liberal legend.

Now, about gays: I may not have told you, but I also oppose a constitutional amendment defining marriage. Do I think homosexuality is a good idea? Certainly not. Very simply, raising children with a woman who is structured differently than you both physically and psychologically is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of life. Orgasms are GREAT! But, they don't comprise a full life. And, homosexual sex is like using your computer for a coffee table: it might work fine for the coffee, but it isn't wise use of the computer.

I had great gay friends in graduate school (actually, one was bi-sexual - maybe never met an orgasm he wouldn't refuse?) I spent scads of time with one. He knew that I thought homosexual behavior was not best for him, but that was understood and we carried on our friendship. To paraphrase Huckabee: I'm straight and I'm Christian, but I'm not mad at anybody about it.

We should not redefine the basic soil of society. But particularly the federal government should have nothing to say about defining marriage. The idea that the definition of marriage is the province of the federal government, I think, is downright OUTRAGEOUS! What, will the matter be open to periodic review and qualification?

I wouldn't support a redefinition of marriage in my state. But in particular states, rather than defining marriage, why couldn't we leave to the individual the right to name beneficiaries of property, benefits, and privileges? I might only suggest that we limit the number of people that can be named.

Speaking of which, relative to this question, I have heard Huckabee address it by saying that we should be more concerned about the miserable state that heterosexual marriages are in, and he's DEAD RIGHT!

Stephen R. Maloney said...

Larry, as times goes on, I'll write more about the sanctity of life. As you know, I have a major problem with some individuals and churches who talk a lot about the sanctity of life but do little or nothing about it. I have a hunch that you at least agree partially. On your discussion of traditional marriage: I find what you say about it to be true in many cases, but absolutely false in many other cases. Most families in America do not have traditional marriages as we've known them. I believe a majority (or a very big minority) of families are headed by single mothers. What are we to do to support them in their efforts? If my 13-year-old (noted below) had lived with a loving gay couple, she would have been infinitely better off. Generalizing about straight couples/singles or gay couples/singles is nearly impossible. (In my heart of hearts, I regard civil unions as somewhat silly. However, they do provide legal rights (in hospitals, for example) that people in committed relationships probably should have, so just go ahead and allow them.)

I recently wrote about the 13-year-old girl who was repeatedly raped by her father and basically ignored by the courts and social services. Was she also ignored by the local churches and pro-lifers? I bet you can imagine the answer to that question. They had no interest in her. They had no vague "baby" to blubber about, so she didn't count. She is not typical, but there are more of her out there (including in this Pittsburgh/Beaver County) area than we would like to admit. I believe the recent immigration debate showed most of the churches (I except Cardinal Mahoney and others who have taken a Christian viewpoint) have ignored the millions of children involved. Rounding up and incarcerating nursing mothers may warm the heart of Rep. Tancredo, but it sickens anyone who has even a tinge of Christian belief. It is an evil act, but apparently not seen as such by the Rev. Dobson and his cohort.

If we are to truly be "pro-life" then we cannot afford to ignore children (and adults) who are in fact alive and breathing on their own. Individuals and churches that do so set themselves for charges of hypocrisy and worse. They are living in a state of sinfulness while at the same time exuding a sense of superiority. I appreciate Senator Brownback's effort to transform "pro-life" into a "whole life" movement, which I believe in myself. However, I fail to see what he is doing to advance his beliefs in any practical ways. It's nice rhetoric, though. However, what does he do for my 13-year-old girl and immigrant children? The answer is: next to nothing. I'm not aware what Gov. Huckabee has done in the past -- and proposes for the fture -- to deal with life issues in other than a rhetorical fashion. I like the man a great deal, but he just hasn't gotten out to me what the practical consequences of his stands will be. I do hate people attaching slogans to themselves without much substance to back them up. I continue to believe that your "all-or-nothing" philosophy is going to exacerbate the problems I've outlined, and that in fact it will end up with nothing. The meaningfulness of life does not reside in our feeling good about ourselves at all costs. It relies, as Sarah Palin indicated, in the good we do FOR OTHERS in our communities.

I agree that the government should not define marriage. For legal reasons, it may have to define relationships so that people don't fall through the cracks in terms of their legal rights.