Friday, January 18, 2008

Mike Huckabee's Catholic Problem In South Carolina

Well he has one at least at this point. I am following the Catholic vote in this election and I am very interested in seeing how this plays out.

Catholics opposing Mike from other camps and indeed the National Media might try to spin his Catholic numbers to present a long term problem. I don't see that except for ONE MAJOR ISSUE.

Now these are numbers from a FOX poll that was just released. The PDF file is here. It is very interesting .I think this is a interesting poll in several regards outside the Catholic vote and I shall point out those later.

Let me say a few warning signs. I am kind of wary of the sample size!!! However I think it is a big enough sample for us to look at and draw some conclusion as to the Catholic vote and Mike Huckabee.

Also I am troubled that this polls shows a gap overall between Huckabee and McCain we are not seeing in the most recent polls. For instance look at this one. (Not only does does it show a neck and neck race but there is no gender gap in that poll as Huckabee supporters as we see in this one)

I will point out there are reason why Mike Huckabee appears to be doing bad with this vote in South Carolina. These problems are in some respect particular to South Carolina while other might not be. Again I think Exit polls will be much more reliable

First the Dismal Catholic South Carolina Numbers from this FOX poll
Romney 20%
McCain 33%
Rudy 6%
Huckabee 7%
Thompson 9 %
Undecided 17 %

Now this is pretty bad at first glance. In fact there are some things that we need to correct. However this Catholic vote seems to be going McCain and Romney for specific reasons in South Carolina

The Catholic vote no doubt is a very influenced in part by Military and Veteran Retiree transplants and their families.. A vote that is critical to McCain. In fact looking at the Survey something is striking.

Catholics in South Carolina view the ISSUES of the WAR on IRAQ and HOMELAND Security as the leading issues. In many ways , I think this issue often morphs into one in voters minds. Especially in a State where so many people are deployed in Iraq and are very pro military. When combined 35 percent of Catholics in South Carolina view that as the number one big issue. In fact they vote that their number one issue ahead of their Evangelical and Main Line Protestant brothers and sisters in that fine state. That is a John McCain issue and asset.

The second issue that Catholic South Carolina folks feel strongly about is the Economy. That comes in at 28 percent. Now I have no data for the economic state of Catholics in South Carolina. However I feel they are not exactly feeling the same pinch as many of their Evangelical breathen in the state. A group that Huckabee Economic message hits home too.

The Catholic community there that are not transplants are more than likely very established and middle to upper class by far. The transplants are often in the Govt and Military thus making their Economic concerns different than their often evangelical counterpart working in the Textile mill for instance.

Romney's and McCain economic message is an asset here to this crowd. Especially since the Club for Growth and Conservative media have made Huckabee wrongly out to be a Republican Huey Long. This must be combated.

One thing to note. Where do Social issues come in. Well Catholics voted that dead LAST with education at a 4%. This is important on several fronts. It appears that Huckabee and McCain are pretty much even in the pro-life vote. Huckabee is leading with 25% while John McCain is nipping at his heels with 23 percent% of voters that see that as the number one issue.

Thus setting up a dynamic where the Pro-life Concerns are not a huge issue because they see McCain as just a Pro-life as Huckabee. I think this interplays with what appears to be South Carolina Catholics concerns about the Security issues. Because McCain is not Pro-Choice they do not have to reach that concern.

Now lets dig deeper. I do think Mike Huckabee's going to the right on immigration might be hurting him. Again I am not so sure. I very much disagree with Mike appearing to go hardline on this. I think in the end he is trying to straddle the fence.

When you look at his statements as whole to be quite frank he is endorsing the Pence plan. That is every go back (poof you are not a illegal alien anymore) and we will set up a process where you could be back in weeks. Now of course the hardline anti amnesty people would not like this. But Mike Huckabee is straddling the fence here I suspect so he can moderate. However I do very much fear that most people do not realize that and it might hurt him. Well, as I said I think it is a mistake. More on that later. What does this have to do with the Catholic vote?

In the poll we see an interesiting dynamic. South Carolina Catholics view themselves as much more pragamatic and moderate than all other groups.

There was a question asked "What is the most important Candidate Characteristic to vote"
South Carolina Catholic voters polled said:
Best Chance to win -13% (Catholic lead all Evangelicals and Protestanst in this cateogory)
Right Experience - 24 %(Catholics lead all Evangelicals and Protestants in this category)
True Conservative- 8% (Catholic come in dead last behind Evangelicals and Protestants inthis category_
Stands up for what he Believes 49%(Catholics come in vrtually tied with Evangelicals and Protestants in this category.

All these come off well for McCain and whow why he is getting the Catholic vote. What I find telling is that Catholics come in dead last on the "True Conservative" category. I think wrongly that people try to say that being for comprehensive immigration reform is not being conservative. However that is how it is viewed. I think in South Carolina that is indeed how its viewed.

ON the issue of immigration Catholics voted that their number one issue by 20 %. Right behind the National security issues.

I suspect looking at the numbers of what Catholics "most important Charactertics" is that they are much more moderate on the whole in the solution to the illegal immigration crisis than their Protestant an Evanglical fellow citizens.

Thus Mike Huckabee going to the right on this I fear has hurt him a tad and not helped with Catholic voters. Again I would have too look at a recent poll of South Carolina Catholic voters on immigration to confirm this. However this might be a warning sign to the Huckabee campaign that Huckabee must come back to the middle where he was.

I do think it is signifcant that Fred Thompson is not exactly setting the world on fire with Catholic voters either.

This poll should be be looked at in the prism of South Carolina. I do believe the military presence in South Carolina and Catholics likely relationship to it helps McCain that is leading with 33 percent of the Catholic vote. . Also I highly suspect that Mike Huckabee's economic message has more appeal to Evangelicals than Catholics in South Carliona. Partly because they are more likely fearful of the future in this regard or feeling the pinch. New Unemployment numbers were released in South Carolina today that showed a substantial rise. They now have the third highest in the nation.

I suspect that most South Carolina Catholic voters will feel the effects differently than the Evangelical counterparts. How this plays out on Saturday we shall see.

The Catholic vote in South Carolina has its own characteristics. I am sure that Senator Rick Santorium would have loved to have traded the characteristics of these Catholic voters for ones that voted in the last election in his state. Especially on the war issues for instance. It will be interesting to see how Catholics Republican views are the same and differ as we go from state to state.

One other interesting part of this poll. Mike Huckabee has a huge Gender Gap. The most of any Republican running. Females are much more likely to vote for Huckabee than males it appears.

I shall update this if there is exit poll numbers that sample Catholic after Saturday night.

Update- I might try to go back and look at sample polling where Catholics were questioned in New Hampshire and Michigan. I am very interested to see if there is a overall trend as to Military issues and Republican Catholics

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