Hi, Mr. Lowry:
Regarding SC and FL, you are assuming that evangelicals in Iowa are the same as evangelicals in SC and FL. It remains my contention that they are not, at least in SC. While I am sure that a minority of evangelicals here might be open to an appeal based solely on religion, the majority of GOP evangelicals in SC are also conservatives. They do not accept candidates who are so willing to accept tax increases, enlarge government, or conduct a Carter-like foreign policy. Part of Huckabee’s strength with evangelicals outside of Iowa has been his ability to call on religious solidarity while concealing his more liberal or non-conservative views and positions behind a veneer of conservatism. He hasn’t been called HARD on it yet. If whoever the main non-evangelical candidate here is can clearly and convincingly make the argument that Huckabee is a Carter-like Christian leftist, I strongly believe that he will lose a large chunk of his evangelical support. But, time is short. Romney and McCain will be tied up in NH and MI for much of the next week. That leaves Thompson as the main protagonist for Huckabee. He will have to make the argument as hard as he can, even if it eventually benefits another of his opponents.
Middle Cheese, my source from 2004 now affiliated with the Romney campaign, passes on what he’s hearing from the Big Cheeses to the Littler Cheeses:
Team Romney had expected 75,000 caucus goers to show up last night, and had set an internal goal of getting 25,000 of them (or 30 percent) in order to win. They exceeded their goal, but did not anticipate the large turnout in excess of 100,000, especially among Evangelical Christians… Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush both lost in Iowa, but went on to win the nomination. Also, it is important to note that no GOP candidate with less than 18 percent in Iowa has gone on to win the nomination.
In New Hampshire, it comes down to Romney vs. McCain, with Huckabee nowhere in sight. A surging Obama helps Romney because he will siphon away independent voters in New Hampshire from McCain, which were crucial in his upset win over George Bush back in 2000. Right now, polls show that 60 percent of likely independent voters in New Hampshire support Obama. In order to win, McCain will have win back Republicans that he lost back in 2000, which has been made more difficult by his anti-conservative voting record since then in opposing the Bush tax cuts, proposing blanket amnesty for illegal aliens, and championing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. Also, look for Mitt Romney to return to his “Mr. Fixit/Washington outsider” message over these next four days.
Politico.com is reporting that Mike Huckabee’s big win among Iowa evangelicals isn’t turning into campaign contributions. If Huck fails to capture second place in New Hampshire, it will underscore the narrowness of his appeal as a Christian populist at war with Reagan-Bush coaltion values.
John McCain, joined by his fundraising chief and campaign manager, held an afternoon conference call where he implored some of his top donors to keep shaking the money tree.
According to a donor who was on the call, McCain talked up his virtual tie for third in Iowa and said he had momentum in New Hampshire. He left it to his aides to make the hard sell.
Which they did.
Tom Loeffler, McCain’s finance chair, implored fundraisers to use their uptick in New Hampshire to cage every dollar. Target old and new givers, Loeffler said, including those that may have previously said no.
Campaign manager Rick Davis told donors that the campaign had raised $1 million on the internet alone in December and bragged that they would have the resources to go head-to-head with Romney in New Hampshire over the final days.
Davis was confident that they could beat Romney in New Hampshire, but said they’d need a wave from there and a win in Michigan to get them through South Carolina (where he said Huck was their biggest threat) and Florida (where he fingered Rudy as their top rival).
If McCain beats Hizzoner in Florida, Davis said, Feb. 5 will be “a victory lap.”