Real Clear Politics’ John Ellis makes a convincing case that despite his third-place finish in New Hampshire, Mike Huckabee is poised for victories in South Carolina and other early primary states:
With McCain now anointed by clueless Washington scribes as the putative front-runner, the Arizona Senator must compete in South Carolina, because he will be expected to and because he has some unfinished business there from the 2000 campaign. Former Senator Fred Thompson has announced that he too will make a stand in South Carolina, although this may be moot by week’s end. Romney will compete there, at least with negative television commercials, if only to cut McCain. The net result of all of that will likely be a convincing Huckabee victory, which should solidify Huckabee’s lock on the Southern primary states and enable his campaign to poach in border states, in the Midwest and in the Rocky Mountain States.
….Again, the longer Huckabee faces two “not Huckabee” candidates, all of whom are alien or anathema to the GOP’s core Sunbelt/Christian constituencies, the more likely it is he will eventually emerge victorious in the final showdown, wherever that might occur.
God-o-Meter thinks another way of putting it is that, with so many other viable Republican candidates splitting the party’s establishment voters, Huck’s block of evangelical support is able to shine through and have an outsized influence. But this phenomenon will come back to haunt Huckabee in the general election, should he make it that far. Presuming Mike Bloomberg stays out of the race and there are only two major party candidates, Huckabee’s religious conservative supporters won’t be able to deliver the swing states.