Posted: January 3, 2008 11:24 PM
Citing Voters' Desire for Change, Huckabee Wins Iowa
Former Baptist minister and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has won the Republican caucus in Iowa. Over the past two months, Huckabee came from behind by more than double digits in some polls.
“A new day is needed in American politics, just like a new day is needed in American government,” Huckabee told supporters at his victory party. “It starts here but it doesn’t end here.”
Despite being outspent by millions, Huckabee rose in the polls in recent weeks to overtake Romney in Iowa, gaining strong support among evangelical Christian voters to win the first major test of the 2008 presidential race.
“We didn’t know how it turn out tonight, but I will be forever grateful to the friends I’ve made along the way,” Huckabee said. “Tonight Iowa made a choice. Their choice was for change.”
Evangelical Christians comprised six in 10 Republican caucus-goers and nearly half of them favored Huckabee, according to preliminary results of entrance polls conducted for the Associated Press. Only one in five favored former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Romney sought to frame his defeat as something less than that, saying he had trailed Huckabee by more than 20 points a few weeks ago. “I’ve been pleased that I’ve been able to make up ground and I intend to keep making up ground, not just here but across the country,” he said.
With 85 percent of the precincts reporting results, the AP reports that Huckabee has won with 34 percent of the vote. Romney is in second with 25 percent, followed by former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson with 13 percent, Arizona Sen. John McCain with 13 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 10 percent. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani finished a distant sixth with 3 percent.
“I was a Romney supporter, and then when the whole issue of pardons came up, I first was against Huckabee but then went back to him when I did more research and learned the full reasons why he released some people,” Colleen Vangore, an Iowa voter, told the AP. “I felt that if Romney didn’t tell me the whole story on that, there might be other things he wouldn’t tell me the whole story on.”
With his sizeable win, Huckabee will try to carry the momentum to Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary. He will find victory there a bit more difficult. In recent polls, he trails McCain and Romney by large margins.
“Something like 60 percent or over half of the voters identified themselves as evangelical Christians — those are exactly the kind of people that Mike Huckabee has been appealing to and will continue to support him,” Amy Walter, editor in chief of the Hotline, said Thursday on the NewsHour. “[New Hampshire is] much more secular, he’s not going to be as successful there. But in South Carolina that’s absolutely the kind of place where that kind of coalition could also be helpful for him.”
Thursday night however, Huckabee, his supporters and Chuck Norris can celebrate a come-from-behind victory.