Thursday, December 20, 2007


Well, now we know a bit more precisely why Huckabee is surging in Iowa:

...Republican women, particularly those who describe themselves as evangelicals and those who attend church regularly, are the primary force behind Huckabee's recent increases. Women now support him over Romney by an 18-point margin; men divide their votes about evenly between the two....

My first thought was "It's the marriage" -- that these women voters resent Mormons because of plural marriage, even though the church now forbids it and respectable Mormons do as well.

But I think what's really going on has to do with the way women more than men get close to their churches and their pastors. You hear this about black churches and about white churches; an old professor of mine, Ann Douglas, wrote a book, The Feminization of American Culture, in which she described how this played out in nineteenth-century America:

... she argues that [women and clergymen] created [a] woman's sphere.... The realm they created was one of "influence," not power; women were supposed to work subconsciously on the lives of others through moral and emotional appeal.... For male ministers and other writers who promulgated the sentimental mode, it represented a disturbing (even to them) and neurotic rejection of masculinity, as they defined themselves increasingly in feminine terms.

I think if evangelical women in Iowa are responding to Pastor Huckabee more than men, it's replicating what's happening in the churches a lot of them attend.


Another thought about this Washington Post/ABC poll, from the ABC write-up:

...evangelical Protestants ... account for nearly four in 10 likely caucus-goers. They now favor Huckabee over Romney by a 3-1 margin, 57 percent to 19 percent.

...Evangelical Protestants account for 37 percent of likely caucus-goers in Iowa, and an identical 37 percent of likely Republican primary voters nationally....

Add that to this:

Romney, for his part, holds a slight lead among the nearly eight in 10 Iowa Republicans who say his religion doesn't matter in their vote. But the remaining two in 10 say his Mormon religion makes them less likely to support him, and they overwhelmingly favor Huckabee by a large enough margin to put him in front overall....

So this is a party (in Iowa and nationally) that's nearly two-thirds non-evangelicals. This is a party in which a guy like Romney could win except for something like 20% of the party who think Mormons have horns. Republicans are killing themselves, and the reason it's happening is that they have too damn many plausible secular candidates.

So if Romney, Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson all stay in for a long time, the nominee could really be Huckabee. On the other hand, if winnowing actually happens soon, these guys could nominate an electable candidate, so watch out.

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