The Fix: Mike Huckabee is Sarah Palin's biggest problem

By Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez
Tuesday, November 23, 2010; 9:33 AM

1. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Monday that Sarah Palin might well "run away" with the Republican nomination for president.

It's funny Huckabee should say such a thing, because he's got a lot of say over whether she does just that. And it has to do with whether he even runs in the first place.

As potential 2012 candidates weigh their prospects and determine their plans for the next presidential race, one thing is clear: that Huckabee and Palin inhabit largely the same space -- i.e. they each would perform well without the other, but they might undercut each other if they are in the same race.

There is currently a four-candidate top-tier consisting of Palin, Huckabee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. And indeed, a new Quinnipiac University poll on Monday showed the four of them all huddled between 15 and 19 percent of the vote.

But while Huckabee and Gingrich have pretty broad support, the base of support for Huckabee and Palin is readily apparent, and for both of them, it starts with born-again evangelicals. The two of them combine for 46 percent of that vote, compared to just 26 percent for Gingrich and Romney. Palin and Huckabee are also the top two vote-getters among women and people without college degrees.

So why is that important? Because if any of the four frontrunners seems least likely to run for president, it would be Huckabee. And, if he doesn't take the plunge, where is his 26 percent share of evangelicals going to go? Where is his 18 percent share of women going? Who gets his 17 percent share of those without college degrees?

The obvious answer to all three of those questions is Palin. Gingrich has been married three times and has some baggage to show for it. Romney's ability to connect with rural, Christian voters, meanwhile, remains suspect because of his Mormonism.

It's hard to see Palin having a path to victory that doesn't include Iowa or South Carolina, and both of those early states happened to be Huckabee's strongest in 2008 (he won Iowa and came in second in the Palmetto State).

At a speech Monday in the Hawkeye State, Huckabee went on to joke that, if he does run, "I prefer she not and that she endorse me."

He's only half kidding. They each stand to lose plenty by seeing the other one in the race.

2. Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) has conceded his reelection race to Republican Rep.-elect Blake Farenthold, handing Republicans a net gain of 62 seats this cycle.

The results of a recount were expected to be completed Monday night, and Ortiz doesn't appear to have made up enough ground to overcome his 799-vote deficit.

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