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The most important number in politics today


That's the percentage of adults who believe former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is qualified to be president as opposed to 36 percent who believe he is not in a new national poll from Gallup.

Huckabee's numbers on the "qualified" question were matched only by fellow former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.) with 49 percent qualified/39 percent not qualified rating. Other potential 2012 candidates like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (44/46) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (31/62) fared worse on the question.

On several other numbers in the Gallup data, Huckabee also shows surprising strength. Roughly seven in ten Republicans say they would seriously consider supporting the former Arkansas governor if he ran for president (the highest of any potential candidate) while 40 percent of adults and independents said the same (tied with Romney for the highest in each group).

What these numbers seem to point to is that there is a significant disconnect between how Huckabee is perceived within the Beltway and how he is regarded outside of it.

Most professional political strategists believe that Huckabee's rise in 2008 was based entirely on the fact that the other major candidates ignored him. When attention focused on him in Iowa he pulled the memorable act of calling a press conference to preview a negative ad only to decide that he wouldn't run it but would show it to the gathered reporters anyway. (We still can't believe that happened.)

Moments like that coupled with Huckabee's inability to build on his Iowa victory or grow his base of support beyond social conservatives has led most of the Republican chattering class to write him off despite polling that shows him solidly in the first-tier of candidates along with Romney and Palin.

But, it's clear that Huckabee's 2008 race had a far different impact on the average American. Huckabee's run for president seems not only have left most Americans with a generally positive feeling about the former governor but also changed the perception of him from something of an entertaining oddity into someone who could be president one day.

It's a similar phenomenon to what former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) experience between 2004 when he was the fresh-faced upstart to 2008 when he was taken far more seriously by voters and the political press.

While Huckabee clearly enjoys the good will of the American public at the moment, there still seems to be little political infrastructure in place to transform that likability into votes.

Unlike people like Romney and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Huckabee has no real political team to advise him on how to turn his native appeal into something more than that. And, he appears to have no interest in building that sort of team.

While a candidate who listens solely to his or her advisers is a recipe for disaster, a candidate trying to win the highest office in the land who serves as his own political strategist isn't much better.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 5, 2009; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  Most Important Number  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tpaw's bad week
Next: And the winner is....


"End The Fed" is a great book by Ron Paul that reports the truth on an all important issue concerning all Americans and it was not written simply to promote themselves regarding a run for president.

Ron Paul should have been on the list. He still holds records for money raised, his Campaign For Liberty is very active, and his support continues to grow with energy and even young people.

There should be at least one person who faithfully follows the Constitution on any list worthwhile.

Posted by: PAFreedom | November 9, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Mark_in_Austin, I agree with your assessment concerning Huckabee & Palin. I am an evangelical Republican and I like Huckabee better than Palin. However, I'm not leaning toward either of them in a Republican primary. In 2008, I supported Romney. I'm unsure as to whom I will support in 2012. It's a known secret that Romney is running again for sure in 2012. I do like Huckabee, but he is purely a social conservative & an economic/foreign policy moderate. Remember his statements about the "Bush bunker mentality"? He speaks as a populist on economic issues. He's moderate on immigration. I really think that Huckabee isn't going to be the GOP nominee. I hope Palin isn't either. I think her intelligence would damage the Republican party all up & down the ticket. She cannot win a national GE. No way! I believe Romney, T-Paw or some other Republican yet to be named (Tx. Gov. Perry, for example) would be a great candidate.

Posted by: reason5 | November 6, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Huckabee's populist rhetoric during the 2008 primary was enough to make me puke. We can do far better after having a communist in the White House than Mike. Besides, Mike Huckabee is a KNAVE! I must admit that if he wins the nomination of the GOP I will have to support him. In the mean time this conservative will do everything in his power to make sure that he doesn't get the nomination including flying to Iowa to knock on doors in frigid temperatures like I did in January, 2008. (Will someone get Mike a years morning delivery of fresh doughnuts so he balloons back up to around 400 lbs and can’t move!!!)

Posted by: wdwrightii | November 6, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if these polls were taken on Halloween when too many people were overindulging on candy. When independents and moderates discover how conservative Huckabee and Romney are, their poll ratings will diminish.

Even if many independents disappointed in Obama do not vote and unemployment lingers above seven percent in November 2012, he will easily defeat any of these Republicans. The only chance the Republicans have to win the next presidential election is if a charismatic, moderate candidate emerges from relative current obscurity, as Obama did between 2005 and 2008.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | November 6, 2009 1:41 AM | Report abuse

Don't watch news coverage of this mass murder in Fort Hood until there is some kind of press conference by the authorities.

Every Channel has so far been pathetic with empty analysis.

Posted by: Washington13 | November 5, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

"Give Huckabee some real exposure and watch that appraisal drop, never to recover."

I dunno, he passes the beer test in spades and unlike Palin, he doesn't sound especially stupid.

Honestly, I think the Republican establishment would actually have some issues with him. He is like the anti-Bush. Bush pretended to be religious in order to get elected and push through his extreme agenda. Huckabee ACTUALLY cares about social issues such as caring for the poor and less interested in extremist economic stances. This might not fly with the CFG.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 5, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

We Interrupt This Thread for Breaking News...

Sen. Feinstein Already Talking About "Infiltration of Our Military."

It's early, but the amazing coincidences start to mount up.

The gunman was an Arab-American, a U.S. Army major, about 40 years old, a medical doctor, a psychiatrist involved with mental health (mind control?). And he's dead, taking his story to the grave.

If true, that fact set would stir up some powerful emotions as the Pentagon is pressuring the Obama administration to widen the war in Afghanistan.

How could Obama possibly do anything but follow the recommendations of the Pentagon after a tragic incident like this?

Why do the numbers "9-11" pop into one's head at this point?

And now, Sen. Diane Feinstein is on CNN asking aloud if there is an effort to "INFILTRATE OUR MILITARY"...

"Infiltrate our military." An Arab-American mass murderer of fellow soldiers.

Oh. My. God. Here we go again? Another ginned up crisis in the wake of a tragic turn of events?

Feinstein is the chairperson of the Select Senate Committee on Intelligence. Wouldn't she choose her words carefully? With deliberation aforethought?

She is also married to a defense contractor, so she's got another line into the Pentagon's current thinking.

What's the next boot to drop?

Why does that line from TV's N.C.I.S. Special Agent Jethro LeRoy Gibbs pop into mind?

"I don't believe in coincidences," he's fond of saying.


This massacre certainly does deflect attention from the pending Obama victory on health care reform in the House, or from issues of civil and human rights and domestic torture -- such as the following issue of urgency to Americans who are the victims of a heinous federal "program"...



• Deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya confirms the essence what unjustly targeted citizens worldwide -- including this journalist -- have been reporting for years...

...MILITARY, SECRET SERVICES, AND INTEL AGENCIES of many nations, including the U.S., silently assault and torture "targeted individuals," including those regarded as "dissenters" or slandered as undesirables, with debilitating, health-degrading, "slow-kill" electromagnetic microwave and laser radiation weapons systems -- reported to include a nationwide installation camouflaged as cell towers, along with satellites and portable weaponry.


Posted by: scrivener50 | November 5, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps this blog should be renamed the "Republican Fix" - it seems as if every post is related to, or seeks to reinforce, something Republican or conservative-related. Two of the most powerful and important advocacy groups in America sign on to the Democrats's health care bill, and all I see are posts about Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee and some bogus health care ad from a whacky right-wing group in Iowa. Sigh.

Posted by: jbentley4 | November 5, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Huck should really "get into" science. It's amazing what it is revealing about fetal development.

Posted by: leapin | November 5, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Of course Huckabee is qualified to be President. I'd never vote for him, but he's qualified. Don't read too much into this poll.

Posted by: Blarg | November 5, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Since the free lunch composters have declared that the GOP is “dead” its stands that this week’s elections were a referendum on your BO. Since there are not enough Reps left to elect anyone it had to be a BO rejection. BO had his glass jaw exposed and we know what happens to a boxer that has a glass jaw.

Posted by: leapin | November 5, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Nice Presidential polls. Is the going assumption that Obama plans on resigning in the wake of the NJ and VA losses?

Posted by: DDAWD | November 5, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

*Rolling eyes* --since all polls are artificial constructs, I would really liked to have done focus groups/ exit interviews with the folks involved in this one. What was the criteria to be included, for instance?

50% of 'adults' think a guy who doesn't believe in basic science -- a true theocrat - is 'qualified' to be president of the United States in the 21st century?

If it's true, the devolution of the US population is speeding up.

Posted by: drindl | November 5, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet vote4mikehuckabee wanted to throw in Jesus of Nazareth as another example of a guy who, just like Mike Huckabee, can get the masses on their feet, but he figured that would be a little over the top so he settled one notch lower with another great choice, Vince Lombardi.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 5, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

"Great Orators like: Ronald Reagan, Mike Huckabee, Winston Churchill and Vince Lombardi can get the masses to rise to their feet..."

Now is there anyone out there who doesn't think this is hilarious? You see, I have little kids. I don't get to stay up all night to see what the comedy shows produce. The madcap slapstick and zany antics of Republicans is funny enough for me.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 5, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with Huckabee on much, but I do admire him. He's enjoying himself pretty much all te time, and that's nice to see.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | November 5, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Conservatives around the country are gathering in record numbers similiar to what happen in 1994 with the Contract with America movement.

With four 2012 Presidential polling wins in just the last 3 months, Mike Huckabee is leading the way for conservatives to mount an all out comeback win in 2010 and 2012.

Conservatives are no longer sitting on the sidelines, they are "energized". Mike Huckabee's superior communication skills and likeability factor is literally sending electrical voltage to the masses to get up and vote in record numbers.

Thousands of Huckabee Fans around the nation, from the North, South, East and West that span 50 States and a unprecedented amount of 418 Counties and growing continue to expand at a accelerated rate.

Great Orators like: Ronald Reagan, Mike Huckabee, Winston Churchill and Vince Lombardi can get the masses to rise to their feet with enthusiastic energy to go out for the win.

Check it out for yourself, just google the words: Huckabee Fan Club

Huckabee keeps winning 2012 Presidential poll after poll after poll:

USA Today Poll (11/05/09)
> Huckabee 71%, Romney 65%, Palin 65%

CNN Poll (10/28/09)
> Huckabee 32%, Palin 25%, Romney 21%

Rasmussen Poll (10/15/09)
> Huckabee 29%, Romney 24%, Palin 18%

PPP Poll (09/24/09)
> Huckabee 41%, Romeny 39%, Palin 38%

AOL Poll (10/01/09) ~ 200,000 votes
> Huckabee 25%, Romney 22%, Other (14%)

Value Voter Poll (09/19/09)
> Huckabee 28%, Romney 12%, Pawlenty 12%

Posted by: vote4mikehuckabee | November 5, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Give Huckabee some real exposure and watch that appraisal drop, never to recover.

A guy who believes in prayer and miracles should be barred from politics by armed guards.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | November 5, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Huckster's qualifications, I'd say yes, he's qualified. But that's ignoring that he's a young-earth believer, which should arguably be an automatic disqualifier.

Posted by: bsimon1 | November 5, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, Palin is terrible. I gotta start reading more than The "hottest brand in politics" Fix.

Posted by: DDAWD | November 5, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"a candidate trying to win the highest office in the land who serves as his own political strategist isn't much better."

I think in the legal profession they say the defendant who represents himself has a fool for a client.


Posted by: bsimon1 | November 5, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Chris Cillizza

You are qualified to be President, no one else.


Posted by: 37thand0street | November 5, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

CC, when you suggested that SHP should be the early R fave in IA I posted that I saw MDH as the early R fave.

Iowa Evangelicals are more socially conscious, on average, than southern ones, or at least they were in my experience which dates from the 70s. They would be more attracted to MDH saying that life is precious after birth, as well, and that global warming is of our making, than to SHP's evangelism without [much] social conscience. This is purely my opinion, but you never explained why you thought SHP would be more popular in IA than MDH. If it is b/c MDH has no pro staff that is less of a concern in a primary where he would rely on the pulpit message[s].

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 5, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The most important number is now 10,000, which the Dow is back over. Conservatives are considering taking Rep. Bachmann's advice and slitting their wrists.

You can probably correlate how many fewer Republicans will win next year with every 100 points the Dow rises between now and next November.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 5, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The most important number is now 10,000, which the Dow is back over. Conservatives are considering taking Rep. Bachmann's advice and slitting their wrists.

You can probably correlate how many fewer Republicans will win next year with every 100 points the Dow rises between now and next November.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 5, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

With one exception, everyone mentioned in the article is not only qualified to be president, but is better qualified than Obama was a year ago.
The exception, of course, is Palin, who isn't qualified at all.

Posted by: ericwine69 | November 5, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Chris those last three paragraphs work,
trenchant analysis, pithy, and oh so true.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 5, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

In other words, to be elected president, Huckabee would needs the votes of about 100 percent of the 50 percent of people who even think he's qualified to be president.

I guess that's good news relative to the other clowns mentioned in the story.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | November 5, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

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