As a Baptist minister, Mike Huckabee is a perfect Republican candidate for Iowa where 4 in 10 voters are evangelical Christians. His surge into the polling lead there is remarkable–tripling his numbers since the summer–but Iowa is no bell weather state. It far more conservative than either of the coasts and although a Huckabee win will cause voters to take another look at him, don’t be surprised if the non-evangelical crowd don’t care for a lot of what they see.
Huckabee is personable, to be sure, but he’s a creationist (meaning to me that he’s anti-science), he thinks God is responsible for his rise in the polls, and his political history is not without its share of problems (unlike say, Romney, who has a solid history of success).
Still, the party Karl Rove created is a Christianist one, and Huckabee fits the bill better than anyone else in the field at present. The biggest loser from Huckabee’s rise is undoubtedly Romney, who has outspent him 20 to 1 in Iowa, and despite a decent speech apparently can’t convince Iowa christians to vote for a Mormon.
I don’t think Huckabee’s candidacy has legs, but unless something dramatic changes, Iowa is his.