A couple interesting things. First, the final straw poll that Josh posted yesterday doesn't tell the real story. People could vote in the straw poll online since August, and Romney narrowly beat Huckabee by five tenths of a point. However, as The Times points out, for those present and voting at the event, Huckabee won more than 50% of the vote, and was treated to "repeated boisterous standing ovations".
Huckabee, a Baptist minister, is the religious right's guy and it is only their own foolishness that kept them from embracing him early on (Matt points out that they stayed away from him because he has compassion for brown skinned immigrants and tax reform on the rich) when their support could have made a real impact on Huckabee's campaign.
Never the less, Huckabee could win Iowa.
Second, although the leaders of the religious right are willing to accept a second Clinton presidency to preserve their own political power, the base isn't so keen and Rudy have made enough promises to prevent a spoiler.
Rick Scarborough, an influential conservative leader who heads the group Vision America, said Mr. Giuliani may have succeeded in defusing that possibility with his strong performance Saturday. “He might have derailed the effort to a third party today,” Mr. Scarborough said. But he added that he would still do all he could to “prevent him from getting the nomination.”As I pointed out in an earlier post, talking about 3d party is one thing, but finding someone willing to actually be a spoiler, and with enough credibility to draw a following and raise enough money to fund a campaign is very different.
There have been signs of growing unease in the movement anyway about the third-party possibility, with many contending that it will ensure the election of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is leading in national polls among the Democratic contenders.