Shock polls: Huckabee leads in Iowa, Rudy craters in South Carolina; Update: Falwell family endorses Huckabee

Imagine if Huck had money. Actually, if this keeps up, you won’t have to imagine:

[T]he trend is unmistakable—Huckabee has gone up and just about everybody else has gone down. Huckabee’s 28% support represents a twelve point increase from a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted earlier in the month. Romney is down four points while Giuliani and Thompson are each down three points from the previous survey. John McCain is down two points and earns just 4% support. Ron Paul picked up a point and is now at the 5% level.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of Evangelical Christians support Hucakbee. That’s more than all the other candidates combined. Romney attracts 16% of the Evangelical vote.

Remember, he’s doing this without the benefit of any big evangelical endorsements. Might be time to re-read this post. As for Rudy, South Carolina’s not a state he was expected to win but the fact that he’s been in the hunt was taken as proof that he could put even social-con states in play. Oh well:

The [SC] poll shows Romney in the lead among Republicans with 17 percent – up from his fourth-place, 11 percent finish in the same poll in August. Fred Thompson is in second place at 15 percent, down from his first-place, 19 percent showing in August. Mike Huckabee is in third with 13 percent, well up from his fifth-place six percent in August. John McCain is in fourth place with 11 percent, down from his third-place 15 percent in August. And Rudy Giuliani – who was virtually tied with Thompson for first place with 18 percent in August – is in fifth place with nine percent in the new poll. Giuliani’s nine-percentage-point drop is the biggest in the field. Finally, Ron Paul is in sixth place with six percent – up from one percent in August.

All of those numbers are smaller than the 28 percent who say they are undecided.

Rich Lowry thinks this is less a function of social-con disaffection with Rudy than with the fact that he’s getting killed in advertising, but it’s hard not to hear the Dean Scream when you look at those numbers. He’s still doing gangbusters business in Florida, where the number of delegates vis-a-vis Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan, and SC will leave him in decent shape for Big Tuesday even if it’s the only early primary he wins (especially if Mitt and Huck split the other four somehow). But even if he takes it, and New York and California too, how does he win the nomination if he can’t win in the south? That’s what this poll suggests. We’ll know soon enough if it’s an outlier.

Update: Don’t forget, Huckabee’s surging in Rudy country too.

Update: Scratch what I said about Huck having no major evangelical endorsements. The Falwells just jumped aboard. Floodgates opening?

Governor Huckabee is not the first presidential candidate to visit the Liberty campus. He is the apparent choice for the Falwell family though. After watching the former Arkansas governor praise Christian values, promote a pro-life agenda, and reinforce the importance of traditional marriage, we asked Jerry Falwell Junior, is Mike Huckabee your choice for President? Without hesitation, he told us he is.

Update (Bryan): Slublog pointed me over to this statement on Huckabee’s website. It’s Rev. Rick Warren all but endorsing Huckabee.

“I know most of the candidates running for president but I’ve known Mike Huckabee the longest, since we did our graduate degrees together in the late 70s. Mike’s a man of vision, compassion, and integrity. I’ve watched his uncanny ability to identify with normal people in ways that many leaders don’t. That’s probably why TIME named him one of the five best governors in America. He’s definitely presidential material. But honestly, what I find most appealing is his self-deprecating humor. That’s a key sign of a spiritually and emotionally healthy leader – someone who is comfortable with himself, is authentic, doesn’t wear a mask, and is secure enough to be humble. People love that.”

I’m not a fan, but Warren is among the most influential pastors in the world via his Purpose-Driven industry. He’s probably the single most influential pastor in the US, much more influential these days than Pat Robertson or anyone else (though Joel Osteen might give him a run). As near-endorsements go, this one was huge yet didn’t make a splash when Warren offered it around the beginning of November. Fwiw.