Out of all the soon to be 2012 GOP candidates, does Mike Huckabee have the best chance to beat President Obama? The Brody File has been saying for some time now that Huckabee is extremely electable because of (among other things) his appeal to Independents and his Reagan-like charm and wit. Now the polling is starting to show that.
Tom Jensen, the Director of Public Policy Polling has written the following:
Why Huckabee's better than Gingrich and Palin. You could answer this question in one simple word: electability. In nine swing states where we've polled since November (Virginia, Montana, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida) Huckabee has trailed Obama by an average of 2 points. In those same places Gingrich has trailed by an average of 7 points and Palin by an average of 11 points. Huckabee is massively more viable in a general election than these two. That's at least partially because he has the most appeal to Democrats of the Republican front runners.
Why Huckabee's better than Romney. Romney has actually done a little better than Huckabee in these early swing state polls, trailing Obama by an average of just 1 point. In addition Romney has shown the most appeal to independents so far of the top Republicans. There's a large difference in how much enthusiasm there is for Huckabee and Romney with the GOP base though. 73% of conservative Republicans have a favorable opinion of Huckabee, putting him just behind Palin's 77%, and well ahead of Romney's 58%. For all the hand wringing of the last two years you better believe Democrats are going to be excited about going out to reelect Barack Obama in 2012. Republicans need to be able to match that and they're going to need a candidate they're enthusiastic about to make that happen- for now Huckabee fits the bill on that front and Romney doesn't.
Huckabee's the only one of the top Republicans who has the combination of electability and base appeal it's going to take to beat Barack Obama. Romney has the electability but not the base appeal, Palin has the base appeal but not the electability, and Gingrich sort of falls in the middle on both counts. A lot will change over the course of 2011 but at least based on the information we have so far Huckabee looks like the GOP's best bet.