In his column this past Sunday, George Will horsewhipped Huckabee for a “subliminal…Iowa attack on Romney” that threatens to establish “a religious test for presidential eligibility.” But if Huckabee has indeed launched some sort of subliminal attack on Romney, it ain’t working.
Just take a look at this chart on RealClearPolitics. In July, Huckabee had the support of four percent of Iowa Republicans, Romney of 24 percent. Today, Huckabee commands the support of 27 percent of Iowa Republicans, Romney of 26 percent. Huckabee’s support is up dramatically. But Romney’s support remains virtually unchanged. Huckabee, in other words, hasn’t gained at Romney’s expense. He has gained at the expense of Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain. And still more significant, he has captured the undecideds.
Romney went into Iowa early. He possessed all but limitless resources. He quickly won the support of about a quarter of Iowa Republicans. And then? By visiting Iowa repeatedly and vastly outspending his oppenents, Romney…held onto that 25 percent support.
Romney stalled out on his own. The Huckaboom came later.