Via the ‘Busters. It’s not quite a conspiracy, he assures us, just a coalescing of power complexes around the mortal threat to their fat-cat status posed by his candidacy. Scratch the surface of any type of identity politics and you’ll find this logic underneath. Usually the supposed conspiracy takes the form of disparate interests falling into uncoordinated alignment against you; occasionally it’s the full cahoots. Huck doesn’t want to go the Ron Paul route by pushing the latter so he keeps his toe on the former. But it’s the same song he was singing before Iowa, until he temporarily suspended it for states like New Hampshire and Michigan where the evangelical base wasn’t as motivated. Now that he’s back on familiar ground in South Carolina, he’s calling it up on the jukebox again.

An interesting poll from Gallup today shows he’s leveled off among the “very religious” at around 30 percent. That’s enough to win a five-man race in South Carolina but not a two- or three-man race on Super Tuesday. How does he build on it? With his economic rhetoric, of course, and also his secret weapon — the likeability factor, an example of which I’m including at the beginning here. He can’t compete with Romney financially but he can beat the hell out of him by going on TV every five minutes and charming the hell out of everyone. To wit:

“Voters really don’t vote on the issues to any significant extent,” said Ken Warren, pollster and political scientist at St. Louis University. “It’s mostly because they don’t know how the candidates differ on the issues. The difference are so subtle, particularly in primaries, that even analysts have a hard time keeping them straight. So (voters) rely on the candidates’ persona instead.”

The confusion created by subtle differences is compounded this year by a crowded field of candidates and a quick-paced primary schedule. That leaves voters to ponder whether they simply like the candidate.

Fred is forever lamenting the fact that the media spends too much time on horse race stuff and not enough on policy, but I wonder if that wouldn’t actually enhance the importance of likeability as some voters (not all, certainly) simply throw up at their hands at trying to digest the fine policy distinctions. The Internet will make it easier to keep track, so maybe that’s more feasible next election.

Another key to likeability? Misrepresenting your more eccentric past pronouncements when challenged on them.