In other words, as we all know, early polls are usually a waste of time. Nevertheless, Huckabee’s dominance should give Americans pause. As the right of center struggles over which kind of leader should rise to the top, they ought to be careful how “unifying” a candidate they wish for. They just might get it—a jumble not just of selling points but complementary liabilities. Rather than hoping for a big-tent consensus candidate or a human laundry list of checked-off identity-political boxes, Republicans could free themselves from the torment and opt for the cleanest possible break with the middling, mediocre past.
That points toward a figure like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. But Republicans have a long collective memory, and there’s no more cautionary tale in party lore than the horrendous flameout of Mr. Clean Break himself, Barry Goldwater. Since Ronald Reagan passed the baton, the national party has played the presidential game as safe as it possibly could—sometimes, as Newt Gingrich can attest, with a vengeance. Given the results of this feeble strategy, that’s better news for Mike Huckabee than it is for America.