You’ve been hearing lately that the contest for the Republican presidential nomination has become a “two man race.” Well, it isn’t a race at all. Let me explain what I mean.
A race is a contest in which the object is to finish first. But there are plenty of Republican candidates who finished anywhere from a few days (Rudy Giuliani) to a few months ago (Sam Brownback, Tommy Thompson). If these guys were racing to finish, the remaining candidates would be trailing the field badly.
Another problem with calling this contest a race is that for the observer, the fun is in picking a winner. But if you’re merely trying to pick a winner, you’ll end up voting for the wrong person. Personally, I think a lot of people are backing Mitt Romney not because they think he’s the best candidate, but because they want to pick a winner – and with his good looks, nice suits, and bottomless bank account, Mitt Romney looks the part.
Though a supporter of a different candidate, I think I can make a dispassionate distinction between the support enjoyed by John McCain and Mitt Romney. While McCain’s support is mostly solid, Romney’s looks to me to be about a mile wide and an inch deep. His camp is populated by a large contingent who would like to vote for Mike Huckabee but think he can’t win. I’ve heard it from people I know (my neighbor who won’t take a Huckabee yard sign because “I don’t think he’s going to win”) and people I don’t know – such as columnists, commentators, and bloggers. If all those closeted Huckabee fans would vote their consciences instead of settling for the wrong man, Huckabee would have a banner day on Super Tuesday.
As it is, I still believe that Huckabee will turn in a performance equal to or better than Romney’s on February 5, and that isn’t just wishful thinking. Huckabee is performing respectably in the national polls, and even better in selected state polls – particularly in Southern states, and especially in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri – all of which will vote on Tuesday. He’s also popular in Minnesota (currently in 2nd place according to MPR) and North Dakota. To the west, Huck is leading in Oklahoma and although poll numbers aren’t available for Texas, he’s both well-known and well-liked there.
Need another reason to dispense with the race metaphor? Huckabee is the only man in the Republican mix who can run 26.2 miles. That’s right: in a marathon, only Huckabee can win.