Who Benefits From the Huckabee Surge in Iowa?
A Commentary by Douglas Schoen
The new Rasmussen Iowa numbers taken together with earlier polls taken by ABC News and the Washington Post, throw many assumptions about the likely result of the Republican Presidential primary into doubt.
Those polls showing Mike Huckabee on the heels of, or even ahead of, Mitt Romney raise the very real likelihood of the former Arkansas Governor upsetting the former Massachusetts Governor in the nation's first nominating contest.
Should that happen, Romney's candidacy which had appeared to be so promising in the wake of his previously strong leads in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as strong showings in South Carolina, Michigan and Nevada, could be undermined.
Given the expectations of pundits (including this writer) that Romney would win Iowa handily, anything less than a convincing victory could well deny the former Massachusetts Governor the momentum his candidacy desperately needs to lift his still anemic national poll numbers.
The apparently strong showing by former Governor Huckabee would seem to offer a lifeline to Rudy Giuliani, though he too has suffered a drop in his support in New Hampshire--despite a renewed campaign effort there. Giuliani is also facing renewed questions about his ethics in the wake of the indictment of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and questions that have just been raised about his own expense reimbursements while he was New York City Mayor.
The Huckabee surge could also benefit Arizona Senator John McCain who--while lagging in Iowa-continues to run a strong second in New Hampshire behind Romney. Anything that weakens Romney in New Hampshire would have to benefit the Arizona Senator who won the state handily in 2000 against current President George Bush.
Finally, while former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson appears to be lagging, any opening in the Republican field would appear to offer Thompson the opportunity for a breakthrough in South Carolina.
It may well be that current polling overestimates Huckabee's appeal in Iowa. Perhaps the better funded, better organized Romney will prevail in the end. Still given steadily increasing poll numbers in Iowa and nationally, it is possible that the major beneficiary of the Huckabee surge will be Huckabee himself!
Douglas Schoen is a founding and former partner of Penn Schoen & Berland, and a Fox News Contributor.
Schoen was President Bill Clinton's research and strategic consultant during the 1996 reelection campaign.
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