The key to Huckabee’s success is the ability to unite the disparate ideological factions of the Republican Party. 31% of voters think the party’s too liberal and with them Huckabee has a 26-21 lead over Gingrich, with Palin a little surprisingly coming in further back at 16%. 48% are comfortable with where the party is ideologically and they go for Huckabee too, by a 33-23 margin over Romney. Huckabee comes in a close second behind Romney with the small group of voters who think the party’s too conservative, 27-23.
In addition to coming out first on the first choice question, Huckabee would also seem to have the most room to grow his support in Iowa. 19% say he’s their second choice to 13% for Palin, 12% for Gingrich, and just 9% for Romney. If any of the other first tier candidates were to end up not running Huckabee would be the beneficiary. Among Gingrich voters he’s the second choice by a 31-14 margin over Romney. Among Palin voters he’s the second choice by a 42-18 margin over Gingrich. And among Romney voters he’s the second choice by a 29-19 margin over Gingrich. The big winner if Huckabee doesn’t end up making the race would be Palin- she’s the second choice of 26% of his voters followed by 16% for Romney.