Per a CNN poll released on Friday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee leads all potential 2016 Republican Presidential candidates in the key state of Iowa. The poll shows that 21% of Republicans in the state support Huckabee among a crowded field of possible contenders. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) placed second with 12%. Others like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) only managed single digits.
Of course, this is only one state, and the 2016 Republican convention is nearly two years away. However, it has to be somewhat concerning to the Republican establishment that Huckabee is currently the frontrunner in a key primary state, even at this early stage. While all of the potential candidates bring their own baggage and all have skeletons in the closet, Huckabee as the GOP nominee would be a disaster for the party and would be the same as the Republicans conceding defeat and allowing Democrats to retain the White House in 2016 and beyond.
Huckabee is a self-styled ‘culture warrior’ whose religious extremism may appeal to a certain element of the Republican Party’s base, but he cannot garner across-the-board support with mainstream voters. He vehemently opposes abortion and famously criticized health insurance plans paying for contraception and birth control. In January, Sarah Jones wrote the following after a Huckabee speech where he said Democrats were the “Uncle Sugar” for women who “cannot control their libido.”
Or ask a Republican why if they see women as so great, why they don’t trust us to make our own medical decisions. Why do they feel the need to control us via their Big Government at every turn if they think we are so great? Why do they think government is the perfect vehicle to control women by passing laws that make it hard to get an abortion and defund access to birth control, but then they don’t think government is a good vehicle for pay equity.
This, Huckabee tells us, is not a “war on them” it’s a “war for them”. Oh. Don’t you feel better now?
I wondered when we’d get to shaming women’s libidos in this discussion. It didn’t take long. It’s the Democrats who are waging war on you ladies, Huckabee tells us oh so not condescendingly. Democrats want to tell women that “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”
Mind you, it isn’t just Huckabee’s Dark Age views on women that would doom him in a general election. His positions on other issues range from the overly conservative to outright offensive. After the Sandy Hook mass shooting tragedy in December 2012, Huckabee claimed that it was the lack of God in our schools that caused the shooting.
“It’s an interesting thing. We ask why there’s violence in our schools but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we do not want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability. That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us, but we stand one day before a holy God in judgment.”
At one time, Huckabee seemed somewhat reasonable on the subject of climate change. Now, he has gone full-on climate change denier. During an episode of his radio show last year, he had on renowned climate skeptic Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). They spent roughly a half-hour throwing out specious claims and unfounded statements regarding Earth’s climate. From a Huffington Post column written at that time:
Huckabee also threw in a few of his own theories
“When I was in college, all the literature at that time from the scientific community said that we were going to freeze to death.” (No, it didn’t.)
“The volcano that erupted over in Northern Europe actually poured more CO2 into the air in that single act of nature than all of humans have in something like the past 100 years.” (Even when it was erupting, the European aviation industry’s emissions alone dwarfed the volcano’s daily emissions.)
Honestly, that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Huckabee. Whether it is immigration reform, education, health care, social services, gun control or government spending, Huckabee’s positions are far to the right. While he may come across as an affable, almost cuddly guy, he is actually a dangerous extremist who wraps ultra right-wing stances in a compassionate conservative package.
It is possible, and even quite likely, that this poll represents the high-water mark for Huckabee in this coming Presidential election. With no other candidate in the field explicitly marketing oneself as a Christian conservative, Huckabee could just be gathering all the religious right voters out there and not have much more support out there. Once the field starts to thin out, it could be that Huckabee continues to hold on to 20-25% of the GOP electorate, while a more mainstream candidate builds broader support. However, until then, GOP establishment has to be worrying quite a bit that Huckabee is the top dog in the race at the moment.