About Last Night


It seems to me (and a lot of the commentariat, apparently) that, if nothing else, last night’s results make a John McCain nomination more likely.

 The strong Huckabee showing is sort of good-news-bad-news in my view.

Just a few months ago, lots and lots of oh-so-smart politicos were saying “the Christian right is dead.”  Again.

Evangelicals as a political force have been relegated to the dustbin of history about 8 times in the last two decades. Yet evangelicals turned out in huge numbers and had a big impact last night.

In fact, Rich Lowry reports: 60% of voters showing up at the GOP caucuses were evangelicals. Huck beat Romney among them 45-19%. 40% weren’t evangelicals. Romney beat Huck among them 33-13%. So much for the demise of evangelicals as a political force.

It’s massively under-reported and under the radar of the pundits for obvious, cultural reasons, but Huckabee had, and has, a “megachurch” strategy. Check out this email from an Iowan to Jonah Goldberg:

You folks in the media keep missing the key to Huckabee’s victory (it was present already in Straw Poll).  It’s not that Central Iowa is home to key television stations.  It’s that Central Iowa is home to the large evangelical mega churches at which Huckabee has appeared and where he has been preaching for the past year. 

I was at a caucus on the borders.  Mitt didn’t win our county (Sioux)  In our caucus he came in third (behind Huckabee and McCain).   We don’t share a media market with Central Iowa.  In fact ours is heavily South Dakota dominated.  But what we share with Central Iowa is a “heavy” (understatement) concentration of evangelical Christians.   The Huckabee “Campaign” didn’t even have someone lined up to speak on his behalf at this caucus of about 600 people.   They didn’t need to.  Evangelicals turned out and voted simply because their informal networks of people that they trusted decided they trusted Huckabee. 

As a matter of fact, Governor Huckabee came and spoke at my home megachurch here in the Dallas area a few months ago. He wasn’t political. He just preached a regular sermon on the importance of marriage and family. And all 5,000 or so adults that heard him that weekend, me included, walked away thinking, “Hey that guys’ alright. He’s one of us. He loves Jesus and preaches the Word.”

So. . .The good news about the “Christian Right” (in Iowa, anyway) is that we’re still very Christian. The bad news is that we’re apparently not all that Right. We are either very “single issue” with an alarmingly strong attraction to a populist message OR we’re all “identity” politics and all we need to know is that someone is “one of us” and speaks our lingo.

One final thought about the Huckabee juggernaut.

Among Republican Iowa caucus goers under the age of 30, Huckabee was a big winner. They broke this way:

40 percent chose Mike Huckabee.

22 percent chose Mitt Romney.

21 percent chose Ron Paul.

Think about this. The oldest of those under-30 GOP voters was 10 years old when Ronald Reagan left office. Most weren’t even born at the end of the Carter nightmare. 

They’ve seen neither what a great, broad-spectrum conservative leader looks like nor what happens when a bunch of Baptists get excited about sending one of their own to the White House. And those who don’t learn from history. . .