A new Washington Post/ABC poll shows Huckabee running almost even with Mitt Romney in Iowa. God-o-Meter noticed a big part of his surge is due to a part in a sharp uptick of support among evangelical Christians:
Huckabee’s gains were concentrated among the party’s conservative core. He saw a 28-percentage-point jump in support from evangelical Protestants, to 44 percent, and a 19-point rise among conservatives, to 30 percent. Among previous caucus attendees, his support increased from 9 percent to 29 percent.
Huckabee probably benefited from the decision of Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.) and others to quit the race. Brownback and Huckabee had been competing for many of the same religious and conservative voters. Moreover, Huckabee’s gain in this poll does not come at the expense of those still running, all of whom are faring about the same as they were in July.
The good news for Huckabee is that his growing support seems to be pretty firm in what is otherwise a very volatile political environment for Republicans:
But almost half of Huckabee’s supporters (48 percent) said they would definitely vote for him in January and only a quarter said there was a good chance that they would change their minds before the caucuses. In contrast, just 29 percent of Romney’s backers said they would definitely vote for him, while 42 percent said there was a good chance that they could vote for someone else at the caucuses.
But God-o-Meter doesn’t cautions against reading as much into Huckabee’s numbers as one would in a typical election cycle. After all, Huckabee’s entire strategy rides not just on finishing strong in Iowa, but also on that finish translating into strong momentum in New Hampshire–where Huckabee is still far behind the pack–and in the cascade of other early primary states. In those states, he’ll be heavily outspent by the GOP’s brand name candidates. There’s a chance, in other words, that Huckabee’s winning streak begins and ends in the Hawkeye State.