Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Republicans reject Huckabee big time.

Rev. Huckabee claims that the Republican race is a two-man race and he’s one of the two men. Rev. Huck is used to believing the implausible and impossible -- after all, he is a theologian. But if anything is true about Rev. Huck’s showing, it is that the man has no support outside the Bible Belt. As the average IQ rises in the state the vote percentage for Hillbilly Huck drops.

Even in the South his support is weak. Only Arkansas, his home state, gave him a decisive win. Once he had to campaign outside Jesusland he floundered. In the rest of the wannabe Confederacy Huck couldn’t win by more than a four point spread. In Tennessee he only beat McCain by 2 points, ditto for the Theopublican Republica of Georgia. In Alabama, a state steeped in racist history, he won by just four points. Even in a fundamentalist territory like Missouri he was still defeated by McCain while Romney was only two points behind Huck.

Outside the South Huckabee had little support. In Massachusetts he only squeaked past Ron Paul by 1 point, leaving him 47 points behind the first place winner, Mitt Romney, and 37 points behind second place John McCain. In Illinois he came in third place, 30 points behind McCain. In Connecticut he came in third again, trailing winner McCain by 45 points. New Jersey Republicans ignored Huckabee, leaving him in third place, 47 points behind McCain. Delaware was another third place result and he trailed the winning McCain by 30 points. Similar results in New York for Huckabee with him 40 points behind. Those are not narrow defeats but major rejection notices and Huckabee is oblvious to the facts.

Republican rich Utah gave Huck 2% of the total vote. He was even beat by Ron Paul, who got 3%. Oklahoma is a border state which is somewhat western but infested with a bevy of Southern Baptists. One would expect a Baptist Mullah like Huck to do well there. He came in second losing by 4 points to McCain. In the western Goldwater state of Arizona Rev. Huck fell again to third trailing leader McCain by 39 points. In the North Dakota caucuses Huckabee came in last. In midwestern Minnesota he comes in third again but only trailed front runner Romney by 22 points. Colorado, a western mountain state, slapped Huck down leaving him trailing the winning Romney by 47 points. The giant western state of California knocked Huckabee to third leaving him 30 points behind the front running McCain.

The reality is that the theocratic, big government message of Huckabee has almost no appeal outside Bible-belt states. And, we must remember this lack of support is among Republicans. When you take into account the majority of the voting public Huckabee’s “support” is even more pathetic. The Democrats would love to have Huckabee as the Republican candidate. Even Hillary, who is widely disliked because she is seen as a bitchy, power-hungry and nasty, would be able to beat Huckabee with a landslide.

Huckabee is trying to out-Bush the president. But President Bush is one of the most pathetic failures to occupy the White House in the history of that building. And considering the competition that says a lot. Republicans know that the Bush mixture of the Bible with Big Government has destroyed the GOP. That lethal combination, of the absurd with the deadly, is a major reason that the House of Representatives and the Senate were handed on a golden plate to the Democrats.

In states where Republicans put their loyalty to the country ahead of their theology, Rev. Huck has been a dismal failure. That the man thinks these rusults make him one of the two top contenders is just one indication how much faith in the ridiculous Rev. Huck actually has.

The big loser in the Republican race has been a consistent big loser. That is Ron Paul. Paul tried to weld a non-interventionist foreign policy to a Right-wing, anti-immigrant bashing policy ala Pat Buchanan -- who endorsed Ron Paul. No surprises with the Buchanan endorsement since Paul basically ran a repeat of the Buchanan campaigns of 96 and 2000, not a repeat of his 1988 Libertarian campaign. The reality is that Paul moved substantially to the Right since 1988 and tried to appeal to the Religious Right. Paul may have converted from his mainstream Protestant faith to hard core fundamentalism but the born-againers didn’t care. They are heavily wedded to the authoritarian moral majority view of life and Paul’s antiwar stand doesn’t go over well with people who joyously sing “onward Christian soldiers” with some regularity.

Paul failed miserably in the Religious Right states. All the exit polls showed that he did far better with Republicans who were secular oriented or non-religious. Paul's main support came from people who basically ignored his pandering to the Religious Right and the anti-immigrant hysteria and supported him either because of his antiwar views or on the basis of his former, more libertarian positions. I personally believe Paul would have done better if he campaigned more like the old Ron Paul of 1988 than like Pat Buchanan.

In Tuesday’s election Paul pretty much fell to last place in every state. He even lost in California to Giuliani, who was no longer running. Paul’s decent showings were in Alaska, Montana and North Dakota. He only managed a second place in Montana and that sounds more impressive than it is. That second place showing came with the support of about 400 people in total. Once again the states where Paul did well were caucus states, not primary states. Where large numbers of people can vote Paul falls to the very bottom of the pack. Caucuses measure the level of support among the true believers, not the breadth of support among the public. And the Rondroids are a devoted bunch. So they will sit through caucuses.

If Ron Paul gathered all the Republican delegates together ,who are pledged to support him, he’d still be able to find enough room at the back of a local Denny’s to host them for lunch. Even the failing Huckabee has ten delegates for every one Paul has accumulated.

The real question for Paul’s supporters, but one they will no doubt ignore, is what is going to happen to the millions they showered on their candidate. He spent very frugally in his race -- almost as if he wasn’t intending to give it a serious run. His financial clout could have been put to good use in the early primary states, where a few big showings would have pushed up in the pack. Instead, he spent relatively little while his surplus keep growing -- it was almost as if Paul were campaigning for president in order to raise funds for something else.

Obviously the real race he was planning all along has been his race for the House in Texas. Paul may have had a presidential campaign treasure chest but the only office he seriously considered was the same one he has held for some time. All indications are that this will be Paul’s last term in office. But even if he were to spend generously in that race I suspect he’ll have a hefty amount left over.

Election finance law is a murky field. As best as I understand it, and I could be wrong, he can spend the presidential funds in his House race. And I’ve heard that he was already doing that anyway. But unless he had a big spending splurge in the presidential race, and that doesn’t look likely, or unless he really spends massively in his House race, which probably won’t be necessary, then he’ll end his political career with millions in the bank. There are then two possibilities.

One is that Paul was not telling the truth when he repeatedly stated he was not intending a third party run. He could pour that money into one last hurrah. Whether he would campaign as libertarian or an isolationist, social conservative would be the main question. Certainly the Libertarian Party is so desperate these day they would salivate at the idea -- but given some of the recent candidates they’ve run for office they are clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel. (The blue conspiracist, Stan Jones in Montana leaps out as one example. Kevin Gividen in Indiana is another and Kevin Craig in Missouri yet another.)

The other legal option is that Paul may donate his funds to a registered 501(c)3 foundation. What is interesting here is that Paul actually runs just such an outfit: the Foundation for Rational Economic Education. You may remember the Ron Paul Newsletter scandal where Paul refused to name the author of hate pieces that he published. Well, the person he was covering up for, Lew Rockwell, is still a close ally of Paul’s and also runs another 501(c)3 foundation. If Paul decides to donate his surplus funds to a 501(c)3 I hope people watch carefully where the money goes. I would like to see how much money is left and where Paul puts it. His donors expected it to go into the presidential campaign and I think there is a chance that a good amount of their money will end up elsewhere.

As for the Republican Party itself. It is clear to me that McCain will be the nominee. And I think Romney will be thrilled to get the V.P. nomination. The only good thing I can say about that ticket is that Huckabee wouldn’t be on it. The Republicans would have taken the first step toward ousting the lunatic Christianists from their party. But replacing theocons with neocons is not a major improvement. The party would still have a long way to go before it would be worthy of even luke warm support. And both McCain and Romney tried to placate the Christians as well.

I think the real story here isn’t obvious. It is the fact that Republicans seem to be waking up to the devastating impact that the Religious Right have had on their party. Neither McCain nor Romney, in spite of trying to pander to the fundamentalists, successfully remade themselves as moral majoritarians. The Republicans simply didn’t buy the make over. Yet these two are dominating the race. Huckabee is the last big campaign for the infestation of fundamentalist maggots that have been gnawing at the GOP carcass. There will be enough of them around, for awhile at least, to regularly humiliate more rational Republicans but I think the golden age of the Religious Right is over.

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