Two new polls show growing momentum for Huckabee

Let’s start off with the caveat that 2016 polls at this point share something in common with John Nance Garner’s view of the Vice Presidency — “not worth a bucket of warm piss,” although it’s often used with “spit” as a euphemism. Had we taken polls seriously in early 2006, the nominees in 2008 would have been Hillary Clinton and, er … John McCain. Still, we haven’t even seen a partial roster of people actually aiming for the nod, and yet Mike Huckabee — who came in second or third in 2008, depending how one counts — seems to be gaining some ground in the public imagination, in Iowa anyway:

Mike Huckabee, whose win in the Iowa caucuses in 2008 put him on the national political map, holds an early lead there if he were to run again in 2016, according to a new poll.

The WPA Research poll shows the former Arkansas governor on top of a field of potential candidates at 14 percent.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is in second place at 10 percent, while the rest are in single digits.

Even more oddly, Huckabee comes up on top in the Reason-Rupe poll, hardly the kind of result the libertarian news magazine would normally cheer. Hillary Clinton once again leads the Democratic field by more than 50 points over her nearest competitor, VP Joe Biden, who may be experiencing the wisdom of Garner in these results. It’s tighter on the GOP side, with Huckabee barely edging out other double-digit candidates like Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie. The rest of perceived Republican gubernatorial bench  — other than Christie — all fall to the second tier. Scott Walker gets 5%, Bobby Jindal just 1%, and Mike Pence, Susana Martinez, John Kasich, and the others don’t even get a mention.

What might account for Huckabee’s sudden emergence? For one thing, it’s not so sudden; he’s been cultivating his national presence through media efforts ever since the end of his 2008 primary campaign. Huckabee is also adept at media exposure on his own, and has clearly used that to his advantage. However, it will take more than that to convince Republicans to do the “next in line” thing again in 2016, and that gubernatorial bench hasn’t even begun to make a move yet (except perhaps Jindal this week, after the survey was taken). If one of the old guard emerge as the frontrunner when the 2016 primary cycle starts in earnest, I’d be stunned.

The Reason/Rupe poll has some other interesting nuggets, too. Barack Obama gets a 43/51 approval rating, and only 37% approve of his handling of the crisis in Ukraine, with 21% not having an opinion on it. Two thirds of respondents favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10, even though 38% think it would decrease the number of jobs in the economy; 60% think it would either have no impact or create jobs. A thin majority of 51% still back the change even if it means prices go up, which of course would erode the buying power for those earning the least. (Perhaps they should read Kellan Howell’s piece on how that policy fared in American territories after Congress forced a hike._

Finally, ObamaCare’s favorability is underwater by a wide margin at 36/53. The Democratic attempt to blame insurers for price hikes has failed; a plurality of 43% blame the ObamaCare law, while only 26% blame insurers. That doesn’t sound like the debate is over, despite what Obama declared this week.