Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The McCain-Huckabee Idea Gets Momentum

Last week, I posited that a McCain-Huckabee ticket may be the only way to keep the Republican coalition together for a meaningful period of time. I also posited that the relationship between the two makes such a ticket completely plausible if McCain can pull off the upset over Romney.

Now Noah Millman at the American Scene makes the case that, should McCain win the nomination, a Huckabee VP candidacy is "blindingly obvious." The folks at NRO disagree here and here, on the grounds that Huckabee is controversial enough that he would make McCain's age a legitimate issue in the campaign and that McCain would have enough support from evangelicals to obviate the need for Huckabee.

While I understand this logic, I think the NRO pair underestimate the disillusionment of evangelicals with the GOP. Yes, McCain's record is strikingly conservative on social issues, but there is still a profound level of distrust from evangelicals towards him. Huckabee's presence would be a major bone thrown to evangelicals that would likely keep them on board the GOP train since it would be an actual acknowledgement of their influence within the party.

The biggest problem with having Huckabee on the ticket would be that it would hurt McCain's appeal to independent voters, who are obviously crucial in a general election. However, unless Obama is the Dem nominee, it's hard to see concerns about Huckabee overriding McCain's general appeal to independents who would be strongly disinclined to vote for overt partisans like Hillary and Edwards. If Obama were to pull off the Dem nomination though, the equation for a Huckabee/hard-core evangelical would change drastically.