February 6, 2008
Huckabee's Surge Muddies Race
Political scientist gives analysis on Huckabee, other candidates.
Political science professor Allen Hertzke says it is best not to make predictions. Huckabee's surprising wins make the Republican waters murkier, says the director of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma.
I think the big story religiously is Huckabee’s surge. I think it was unexpected by most of the experts and pundits. He had a shoestring budget, he barely was funded, yet he won five states basically on a tremendous turnout of evangelical Christians. It’s really muddied up the Republican race pretty significantly. What looked like a might be a triumphant McCain victory is turning out to be something a little bit more drawn out I think.
Hertzke says the attitude among voters is quite different for the two parties.
It’s a very unsettled race. A lot of Republicans are not really satisfied with the field of candidates. They’re struggling to make their decisions. The other side is a little different because I think here’s a lot of energy and excitement in the Democratic Party and the supporters of Hillary and Obama are both enthusiastic about their candidates. I sense on the Republican side, I sense more of a groping for ‘who am I going to vote for?’
The political scientist believes that while Obama may have some interest from evangelicals, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain both have work to do.
I think Barack Obama already has a message of hope, a religiously-based message, a subtle one, but I think it’s there. I think his message about unity, ending the divisiveness of politics is very appealing, especially to young evangelicals. Hillary Clinton has to work harder, clearly, to cut into the evangelical vote in a general election. [McCain has] been trying to reach out to the conservative wing of the party, not only the religiously conservative but the economically conservative of the wing. I think it’s still dicey for him.