As the GOP candidates roar into Michigan, Huckabee has scrambled this race.
His strong showing in Iowa has made this a three-man contest. He vaulted to second behind Romney in a Dec. 21 Detroit News poll and a survey today by the Rossman group has him a point up on the Michigan native. McCain, curiously, languished at 10 percent in the News poll, but he has picked up steam in Rossman and that should continue.
This is a state he won in 2000 over Bush and that is tailor made for him with a large independent voting block (like N.H.) and potential crossover Democrats from the Democratic primary non-contest.
But back to Huck. Both McCain and Romney are hitting the ground first in Grand Rapids, the heart of conservative, evangelical western Michigan that is solid Republican country. It is also now Huckabee country, given the ex-preacher’s obvious appeal. It is especially important to Romney – distrusted by evangelicals for flip-flopping – that he shore up some of this base.
Beyond his two appearances there, he then moves east towards solidly Republican suburban, white-collar districts in Livonia and Oakland Co. outside Detroit. This is the establishment’s home, where, like Dubya in 2000, he hopes to draw heavily.
McCain, predictably, heads from Grand Rapids to Macomb County north of Detroit – home of the famous blue-collar Reagan Democrats – before winding his way towards Ann Arbor – liberal and green and McPotential voters.