Why Huckabee wins with the values voter

Dwayne Horner has a good take, to which I would add something that’s purely gut but may be valid.

Much has rightly been made of Huckabee’s 1000+ clemencies and particularly the DuMond case. That’s a legitimate issue as far as I’m concerned, and one that resonates with the law and order side of the values vote. Put beside Romney’s record of 0 clemencies and you ought to have a clear win for Romney.

But there’s another issue that may resonate more strongly with the values vote, and it’s Mitt Romney’s $50 abortion component of the MA universal health care plan. I know when I saw it I found it repulsive, and I’m the kind of voter who is both a values sort but predisposed to like Romney for his executive experience and record of saving major efforts from certain calamity. I would put someone with his record to work on problems like Social Security in a heartbeat, long before I would put Huckabee in the same role. Same goes for the war, which is my paramount issue. I’ll take Romney or Thompson or McCain on the war before Huckabee. But the war isn’t the only issue, certainly not for most values voters. It seems to be less of an issue for a majority of values voters than I’d suspected.

This is more guess than anything, but values voters may have looked at Huckabee’s lackluster record on clemencies alongside the $50 abortion and rightly concluded that neither is good but the latter is responsible for far more death than the former and in the grand scheme cuts more strongly against their values. The $50 abortion is the kind of issue that can fly through the kind of word-of-mouth network that propelled Huckabee to win in Iowa but will never register in the press because they won’t ask the questions that could get them there, and that goes for the conservative punditry as well. Mitt’s problem with the values voter, then, is that while he’s very much one of them on his life history and his executive experience is formidable, he has a public record that just kills him with values voters at an instinctive level. It’s not bigotry at work. It’s a legitimate issue that speaks to what candidates have done with political power.