Huckabee’s Results In Iowa Poll — It’s The FairTax, Stupid!

In the Iowa straw poll, Huckabee came in for a surprising 2nd place finish. Both Doug and Kevin seemed almost shocked by this result, and suggested that this is a major shot in the arm to his campaign. This may be seen by some that he’s a much stronger force than originally understood, and that as an Arkansas boy, he will have a lot of previously unrecognized support in the heartland.

But this is missing a crucial point, a point which is easily exploited by the nature of the Iowa straw poll. As previously mentioned, Romney basically won by pouring money into the poll. You spend enough to bus in your supporters and pay for their tickets, and you’ll do pretty well. So this poll can’t be taken as necessarily a representation of exactly what the electorate is thinking, rather it’s a representation of who put in the time and effort to mobilize their supporters.

Granted, Huckabee doesn’t have a huge warchest, so he hasn’t done well due to monetary influence. But there’s another explanation. Huckabee is the only candidate in the field who is an outspoken supporter of the FairTax.

I’ve long thought that the FairTax would be a much more efficient, effective, and fair method of taxation than our current hodgepodge of loopholes and hidden taxes that have enriched our politicians for years. In fact, I used to be a fairly strong proponent of the FairTax, and was a contributor to the FairTax Blog. For several reasons, I’ve since backed away from active support for the proposal, largely because I don’t trust the government to actually implement it properly, and my fears that they might add this in addition to other taxes, not as a replacement for those taxes, has grown. But the plan, as designed, is pretty solid.

And the supporters of the FairTax are a pretty rabid bunch. Where I used to live in Atlanta, a FairTax rally filled the Gwinnett Arena and had hundreds or thousands of people turned away at the doors because they couldn’t enter, and that’s after several thousand were already there. The FairTax Book was a national best-seller. All this over tax policy!

Clearly the FairTax crowd can mobilize support. And as I’m still on some of their email lists, I can tell you that they were pushing for support and a big turnout. It makes perfect sense, knowing FairTax supporters, that the strong showing by Huckabee was more due to support for this policy than support for him.

So I decided to run over and check my usual source for prognostication, Huckabee, even after the straw poll results, is still trading about a 3 point share for the nomination. He’s even behind Gingrich at this point. Ron Paul, who had half the number of votes Huckabee had, is currently trading about a 4.5 point share, and that’s up from a week or two ago.

I’m not yet ready to believe that Huckabee’s result in Iowa is anything more than a concerted effort by FairTax proponents to get out the vote. Unless and until I see a significant move in his numbers on intrade, I won’t consider this support to be real.

  • Jeff Molby

    You’re right. FairTax had its own lot (a not so cheap one, at that) and a lot of supporters.

    It’s also worth noting that Huckabee also had a couple buses running.

  • Scott

    Brad, you need to do better research. You said “Romney basically won by pouring money into the poll”. If you look at all the recent polls, he was ahead of Guiliani, McCain and Thompson prior to the Straw Poll. He was better organized, spent a lot of time in Iowa and yes he did spend money but it was to confirm his first place position not to obtain it. The other top tier candidates dropped out nearly two months ago because they new they would loose and didn’t want to look bad.

    Romney is a solid choice for President because of his message, his organizational skills, his leadership and yes he can raise money. There’s your story.

  • Rob

    No doubt the fair tax people had a lot to do with Huckabee’s support. From what I understand they were also busing people to the straw poll and Huckabee people sent their supporters to fair tax to get transportation to Ames.

    But don’t forget Giuliani. The rumor was that Giuliani was quietly supporting Huckabee in hopes that he might do well enough to embarrass Mitt Romney. I don’t think he did that, but it may have helped him over the hump against Brownback. Giuliani has been actively campaigning and spending money in the state and yet he wound up with fewer votes than Fred Thompson. So it seems reasonable to me that Giuliani was also partly responsible for Huckabee’s strong showing.

    Yet I could imagine it backfiring on Giuliani. If Brownback is forced out, Huckabee may just be able to unify the evangelical vote. The bounce he got from that could help him to raise a lot more money and help him move up the ladder in Iowa. Giuliani doesn’t really need an opponent with strong conservative credentials on the Right. Look how Fred Thompson has done without even announcing. But Thompson is a terrible speaker and not a good campaigner. He’s probably also mostly an opportunist. Huckabee is an excellent speaker and a good campaigner, and he didn’t have to do many flip-flops to get to his current conservative position.

    It could be that he will be the one to unite the conservatives against the pragmatist candidates Romney and Giuliani.

  • Yep…

    Once people dive into Huckabee’s pro illegal amnesty leanings it won’t matter what he says about a Fair Tax. Not only does he not pledge to provide amnesty to illegals. He has also not pledged to deny them welfare and educational benefits. Indeed, in Arkansas he backed measures to allow illegal alien children to attend school with in-state rates and make them eligible for funding. Not only this, but he tows the ol’ “They’re doing the jobs Americans don’t” line which is complete nonsense. Yes they’re doing the jobs Americans won’t do for $5 an hour. Jobs that were paying $10+ an hour just 5-10 years ago. Duh.

  • Brad Warbiany


    On Intrade, Romney is still trailing Giuliani by 12 points, and is almost dead even with Fred Thompson, who hasn’t declared. He is still way ahead of McCain, though.


    Also on Intrade, I thought there might be a bump between this morning and now, but Huckabee is still sitting just below a 3 share. Ron Paul has moved from 4.5 up to 5.5, so there’s been some movement today, but none of it behind Huckabee. That makes me think that this result is an outlier due to the FairTax crowd, not a trend.

  • Brady Crom

    The FairTax is bi-partisan and backs no candidate or political party. There are both Republican and Democratic voters/candidates whom understand how the FairTax will return sanity to the tax code, congress and the country.
    Any and all FairTax supporters were invited to Iowa to promote the FairTax, not an individual candidate. In fact the FairTax will be there when the Democrates come this week.
    Each FairTax member just voted their conscious and like many Americans, some are major/one issue voters. But no FairTax supporter was invited to Iowa or directed by to vote for any individual candidate.
    The FairTax did not provide free tickets to vote for any particular candidate, as did many of the candidates. So, if one candidate did enjoy some success from the presence of the FairTax people; that is what America and grassroot movements are all about. It seems to be forgotten that other candidates support the FairTax too (ie Ron Paul, etc.); and I’ve seen no posts on their showings.
    Romney’s pouring money into Iowa for votes seems like a much more directed push to garner votes for one candidate, himself. I’m not saying anything is wrong with that, but from earlier posts here, some people infer that the was pushing one candidate, when it obviously wasn’t.
    I just want to set the record straight.

  • John Blixx

    Before you make up your mind on the FairTax, please see what the opposition has to say. It may be the most important decision of your life.