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.