By all accounts, the 2016 Republican primary schedule will look quite favorable to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. It starts off with Iowa, a contest he won in 2008, then goes quickly on to South Carolina, a state which he narrowly lost, then it may head to what’s being called a “Super Southern” primary day with multiple southern states holding contests, all of which Huckabee won in 2008. The exception being New Hampshire, which comes between Iowa and South Carolina, though Huckabee may plan to skip the Granite State this time around.
A lot to digest, but read the excerpts of this story from Real Clear Politics:
It all starts in Iowa where the 2008 winner of the first-in-the-nation caucuses currently stands as the early favorite to repeat that triumph.
Huckabee leads the hypothetical GOP field by 6.2 percent in the latest RealClearPolitics average of Iowa polls and has held or shared the lead when included as an option in every public survey conducted in the state this year.
Among Iowa’s influential evangelical electorate, support for Huckabee runs deep. And if he can notch another victory there in a crowded field, he likely will knock out a competitor or two who otherwise would have posed a challenge farther down the road.
The challenge for Huckabee will be to rise to the high expectations that he will face in Iowa during his second presidential go-around.
After Iowa comes New Hampshire—a state where the more moderate and secular Republican primary electorate is ill-suited for Huckabee.
In 2008, Huckabee decided to compete anyway in the Granite State, and his somewhat respectable yet distant third-place showing there slowed the momentum he had generated in Iowa.
This time around, Huckabee’s advisers appear to have learned their lesson from having been tempted by the New Hampshire’s glaring yet unrealistic allure.
There is little doubt that the state poses the highest hurdle for Huckabee on the early nominating calendar, but one that he is poised to sidestep rather than scale.
“I would have him go straight from Iowa to South Carolina,” said one Huckabee confidant who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the prospective candidate’s strategic thinking.
But Huckabee’s most valuable trump card in the entire 2016 calendar comes on March 1 when officials from five states in the heart of the former Confederacy—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee—are taking steps toward hosting what would effectively become a Super Southern Primary.
In 2008, Huckabee was the victor in each of those southern states except for Mississippi, which held its primary a week after he dropped out of the race. [Emphasis added]
Assuming the proposal comes together, March 1 of 2016 will provide Huckabee with a major opportunity to harness momentum and lock up a significant number of delegates at a pivotal stage in the game.
Set for publication in two weeks, the title of Huckabee’s latest book—“God, Guns, Grits and Gravy”—suggests the extent to which the likely candidate will continue to play up his Deep South roots, even if the two Texans who are considering 2016 White House bids are also in the mix.
There is a compelling case for how friendly the primary calendar could be to a southern candidate like Huckabee. He’s got the evangelical vote in the bag, maybe fighting off Ben Carson or even Ted Cruz, but he’s got a wider appeal than either of those candidates and better organization. Would conservatives feel more comfortable with Mike Huckabee versus Jeb Bush when it comes down to casting a primary ballot? That’s the ultimate question.