Mike Huckabee Could Be a Force for Republicans Come 2016
Around the State
There are two leading Republicans in Florida -- former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. who are possible presidential candidates in 2016. But the Sunshine State could produce another GOP hopeful with fewer ties to the state, as former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas could take another shot at the White House.
After his surprisingly strong showing in 2008, Huckabee left Arkansas to move to the Florida Panhandle. While he stayed out of the 2012 presidential contest, Huckabee remained active in public affairs, hosting his own radio show which he pulled the plug on in recent weeks. Huckabee will be launching a new website soon called the “Huckabee Post” in the coming months.
While Huckabee might be doing the same thing he did in 2012 by raising his profile to help his media ventures, which also includes his work with Fox News, some polls in early caucus and primary states show he could be a contender come 2016.
The Wickers Group, led by former Huckabee strategist Bob Wickers, released polls at the end of last week showing the former Arkansas governor in strong shape in Iowa, the state which holds the first caucus and which he won in 2008, and South Carolina, which holds its primary right after New Hampshire.
Huckabee leads the pack in Iowa with 21 percent followed by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tied for second with 14 percent. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., places fourth with 11 percent followed by former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rubio with 9 percent apiece. Gov. Rick Perry trails with 5 percent.
The poll also shows Huckabee has the highest favorability with Iowa Republicans, with 75 percent seeing him in a favorable light and only 12 percent seeing him as unfavorable.
The poll of 402 likely Iowa Republican caucus voters was taken from Dec. 4-7 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.
Huckabee also does well in South Carolina where 72 percent of Republicans view him favorably, easily the highest number of any of the presidential hopefuls. Only 11 percent of Republicans in the Palmetto State view him unfavorably.
Back in 2008, Huckabee came close to beating U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in South Carolina and the new poll shows him in solid shape come 2016. Huckabee leads the pack with 24 percent followed by Christie with 15 percent and Rubio and Cruz taking 12 percent each. Paul pulls 11 percent while Santorum takes 6 percent and Perry gets the support of 5 percent.
The poll of 400 likely South Carolina Republican primary voters was taken from Dec. 4-7 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.