Nate Cohn of the NY Times suggested that given recent polls, Mike Huckabee is shaping up to be a key disruptor during the early caucus period, and possibly a pivotal player when/if Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio come down the stretch into the Florida primary together. Huckabee’s mdia numbers are all moving in the right direction, although he is behind his GOP rivals at this early media cycle in the GOP selection.
The Huckabee name aside (I always thought “Huckabee” would be a good candybar name), the former Arkansas governor is a seasoned campaigner, and to no one’s surprise, driving strong numbers in his core base of evangelicals and social conservatives.
Cohn quotes a number of polls which tend to put Huckabee in position behind his rivals, (+1 point at 80), Rand Paul (off -2 points at 83), Cruz (+4 points at 80), Rubio (No Change at 71), Christie (-2 points at 85) and Jeb Bush (+3 points at 74). It’s a stretch, but you could include Ben Carson who is up 4 or 5 percent at 72.
Looking at the recent media rating numbers, Huckabee is currently driving a media position of 70 points, up +2 over the prior month, and up +21% over the prior year. His media rating is off its December high of 74, but media momentum is strong at +67% with 3 consecutive months of increasing momentum.
Relative to his GOP peers, his numbers are still below where he needs to be if/when he announces his intention to run for President. Two of his main rivals in the factional area have announced their candidacy and are building media momentum in anticipation of media coverage in the early Iowa showdown.
Mr. Cohn’s arguments are right on the money. The GOP has a large evangelical block and Huckabee has always been a favorite with that demographic. His media numbers are ramping nicely towards a formal announcement, which he has suggested could be in early May.
The only media concern is Huckabee’s rating low over the prior 4-years. Dropping to 36 points in April 2013 is scary low, almost completely absent from the media – all media. A national candidate’s low should not drop below 55 points if they wish to maintain reasonable brand affinity through earned media channels. Huckabee spent nearly a year below 55 points in 2013.