Propelled by little more than his message and political skills, Republican presidential contender former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has vaulted into a statistical dead heat for first place in crucial, first-in-the-nation caucus state Iowa, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.
Huckabee's surge is equal parts size and intensity, having gained considerable ground among key parts of the GOP base in the Hawkeye state — evangelicals, conservatives, weekly churchgoers and abortion opponents — with 50 percent of his supporters "very enthusiastic" about him, compared with 28 percent of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's supporters.
The affable underdog achieved all this on a shoestring budget with little national infrastructure and close to no support from the Republican establishment...
Huckabee's hurdle today remains the same one he faced last week when despite his more ardent opposition to legal abortion he lost the endorsement of the National Right to Life Committee to former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson: Few Americans are convinced he can actually win the White House.
In fact, only 42 percent of Huckabee's supporters in Iowa think he's going to be elected president.
"That's the hurdle I've had since the beginning, and it's also the one that's being erased by every month's standings getting better," Huckabee said. This kind of poll gives more people reason to think, 'Hmm, the guy could win.'"
In 1979, Huckabee says, Ronald Reagan was in fourth place in polls. "He was flat broke. They were living three to a hotel room, eating peanut butter, and nobody thought he had a chance. He had upset the Republican establishment. He certainly wasn't their candidate, and it looked like that he wasn't going anywhere. Now people talk about, 'Oh, the inevitable Ronald Reagan' — but that's not what was going on back at this particular point in time."...