There are, of course, any number of different ways to analyze the Iowa results, most of them useless. So, let me offer yet another useless bilge of thought. . .
One thing about Republican politics that differs from Democratic politics is the sort of Kingmaker role of the Washington big boys. While I would never claim that Washington Democratic insiders have no bearing or influence on caucus/primary politics, in the Republican Party, there generally seems to be a consensus as to whom the nominee will be, often long before the primaries. There seems to be some appetite among Republican voters, and definitely some conceit among Republican insiders, for a kind of coronation of the next candidate. The Next Reagan.
And like Reagan, like George the Younger, they don’t have to be good or even smart. They just have to be a figurehead behind whom Americans can rally. They have to be symbols of something marketable, so as to allow the real leaders, the heads of the Republican Party think tanks, to get their game plans into place.
This year, with Republicans falling back in dismay on all fronts, Huckabee’s victory in Iowa is yet another kick in the teeth to most of the Republican leadership. Republicans and many pundits will scoff that Huck won’t win in New Hampshire and that his candidacy ends there. But the fact is, Huck has represented the first real spark of interest the electorate has had on the Republican side of the isle in this entire extended campaign season. The last best thing was Derf Thompson, the Man Who Would Be Sleeping.
Huckabee will doubtless not win the N.H. primary, but if he places second or even arguably third, he stays relevant. Meanwhile, his popularity has risen dramatically across the country, making it possible to carry some of the more Conservative, Evangelical Republican primaries . . . such as South Carolina. The question for the Huckababies is: can he stay ahead of the bad press he’s getting, with all the foibles and follies of the last week? Iowa certainly seems to suggest a “yes.”
And while nothing is certain or foreordained in this Republican primary season, what has guys like William the Bloody really upset is that the ordination may happen somewhere in Corn Country without them.