The EFM Feature

Mike Huckabee won the 2009 Values Voter straw poll. What does this mean? Is it an ominous sign for Mitt (he finished second)? The short answers are “not much” and “no.” The long answers follow.
First, as everyone who’s followed EFM knows, we love a good straw poll. So I’m not one who’s going to minimize results when my guy loses and shout from the mountaintops when my guy wins. That’s spin, and I’ll leave that to the folks who draw a paycheck. I wish Mitt was more popular with the “values voters.” I really do. He should be more popular, and that’s the reason this site exists.
Values voters are Mike Huckabee’s core constituency. The numbers don’t lie. Governor Huckabee dominated the evangelical vote in the primaries. His strength in the evangelical world can’t be questioned. It just can’t. For him, the challenge is reaching out beyond evangelicals . . . and because of that, the 2009 Values Voter Summit tells us nothing that we didn’t already know. When it comes to evangelical voters, we’ve got work to do.
But Huckabee’s got a harder job winning over non-evangelicals than Mitt Romney does in winning over the party’s strongest social conservatives. Here, the numbers are stunning. In 2008, Mitt won 25% of the evangelical vote, while Huckabee won only 8% of non-evangelicals. And while the evangelical vote is big (40% of the total Republican primary electorate), 40% is still a minority.
The bottom line? With evangelicals, at this point Mitt seems to be roughly where he was in 2008 (and we’re going to do what we can to help other evangelicals see the light.) But where is Huckabee with non-evangelicals? Time will tell, and the Values Voter straw poll does nothing to help us answer that question.


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