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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Huck’s Stunt, Limp Ground Game

The AP‘s Ron Fournier has an enjoyable account of the latest act in the Mike Huckabee circus. Fournier, one of the few msm reporters who has not been snowed under by the Arkansas Governor’s much-noted wit, charm and bogus populism, nails Huckabee for a press conference he called to show reporters an ad he was withdrawing because it was too negative in attacking Romney.
Presumably, Iowans were supposed to respond, “Ah, how humble, how decent. But gee whiz, Huck’s ad had a point.” A dubious tactic at best. As Fournier says:

Iowans have a reputation for punishing politicians who go negative. The question is whether voters, particularly evangelicals who make up his political base, will believe Huckabee had the political equivalent of a deathbed conversion.
Or will they think he’s treating them like rubes — appealing to their sense of fair play while being foul?

Fournier wasn’t having any of it. Conceding that Huckabee is “an immensely talented communicator,” Fournier calls him a “flawed candidate,” “mistake-prone” and “thin-skined and rash.”
Towards the end of his article, Fournier notes something unique about Huckabee’s campaign:

He has a paltry political organization in a state that values the ground game, according to an informal survey of GOP county chairs and co-chairs. “I haven’t seen much of a sign of him or his people,” said Jim Conklin, chairman of the Linn County GOP.

What is interesting here is that Huckabee is leading in the latest polls and may just win the Iowa caucuses with a comparatively limp ground game, a highly counter-intuitive strategy. If he pulls it off, however, it doesn’t mean anybody can do it. As Ed noted in his 12/28 post “Somehow or other, Huckabee’s managed to come up with the jack for a respectable TV campaign of his own.” And not every candidate has Huckabee’s talent and grit for guerrilla politics. But if he wins, it will prove that Iowa can indeed be had without much of a ground game — at least on the Republican side.

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