huckabee14.jpgA new Beliefnet online poll finds that Mike Huckabee is the leading Republican contender among evangelicals, but not by much. View God-o-Meter’s story on the poll here and complete results here. Sure, Huck got 28-percent of evangelical support, but McCain wasn’t too far behind, with 21-percent support, even after the battering he’s receieved from Christian Right leaders since his 2000 campaign.
And check out the two candidates’ favorability ratings: 53-percent of evangelicals viewed McCain favorably, compared to 27-percent who didn’t. That’s not too far off from Huckabee, who was viewed favorably by 55-percent of respondents and unfavorably by 23-percent.

The Arkansas News Bureau did some follow-up reporting among evangelical leaders:

With terrorism fears still on their minds, evangelicals are looking for more in a president than harmony on social issues, said the Rev. Joel Hunter, a Florida pastor.
“Everybody has a question about his foreign relations experience. How is he going to be as an international player?” said Hunter, senior pastor of the 12,000-member Northland Church in Orlando, Fla.
….Evangelicals spurred a Huckabee victory in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, but he has not won since.
And McCain cut into Huckabee’s evangelical base in his narrow victory over the former Arkansas governor in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.
“John McCain picked up 25 percent of the evangelicals in South Carolina, and why did he do it? Because he had more experience,” said Richard Cizik, spokesman for the National Association of Evangelicals. “That’s the question about Mike Huckabee out there.”

God-o-Meter wonders if new doubts about Huck’s viability even within the evangelical universe will spur some evangelical leaders to back rival candidates as Super Duper Tuesday approaches. It will certainly prompt GOM to lower Huck’s rating a peg.


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