…according to USA Today, which also crunches the numbers for Romney and Brownback. If Huckabee were able to raise some money, he could indeed turn himself into a top-tier candidate. He’d have to concentrate on Iowa and spend millions there, with the aim of finishing second in the caucuses or even pulling off an upset victory over Romney, which I think is within the realm of possibility — again, assuming funding materializes. (Brownback would have to drop out as well, to really give Huckabee a chance against Romney.) Even if Huckabee were just to finish close to Romney in January, that would be a humiliation for the latter. Of course, McCain, Thompson, and Giuliani will all be on the ballot as well in January, but that might actually hurt Romney more than Huckabee.
Will Dobson and the Religious Right get behind Huckabee? If they did, Romney could find himself in real trouble, caught between the Christian conservatives to the “right” and Giuliani to the left. Out of all of that, I suspect Giuliani would emerge triumphant.
While I find the horse race aspect of all this very interesting, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I would find any of the outcomes above healthy for the Republic, though I might get a bit of Schadenfreude from ’em. Huckabee is worse than Bush as a free-spending “compassionate [non-]conservative,” and he’s a tax-raiser, too. My old TAC colleague W. James Antle took a look at Huckabee’s (and Brownback’s) economic credentials back in February. If anything, Jim is too soft on these guys: for one thing, while he says “social conservatives have been among the strongest supporters of smaller government within the GOP,” that probably isn’t true when you take into account the vastly greater military spending that the religious Right favors. (Then again, GOP “moderates” like their warfare-welfare and military pork, too). Between Huckabee and Romney, it’s hard to say who’s worse: Romney at least has shown some competence in business. But there’s no reason to dwell on lesser evils when there’s a positive good, Ron Paul, in the Republican race. And come November 2008, the greatest evil, Hillary Clinton, is probably going to inundate whoever the Republicans nominate — unless they nominate their only antiwar, anti-state candidate.