The biggest surprise of yesterday’s Iowa Straw Poll was that Mike Huckabee came in second. Mitt Romney spent a large amount of money, was well organized, and won as expected. Sam Brownback also spent a lot, and he rented about 60 buses to get his supporters to the event. But Mike Huckabee didn’t rent any buses, and spent much less, yet he managed second place, edging out Sam Brownback. How did this happen?
Back in June, I received an e-mail from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, announcing that their PAC had endorsed Mike Huckabee for President. The HSLDA has about 70,000 member families, and is well connected to other homeschoolers. (Homeschoolers make up about 2-4% of the student population in the USA.) Here is some of what they said:
Dear HSLDA members:
HSLDA’s PAC Committee has taken the historic step of making an early
endorsement in the 2008 race for president.
We believe that Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas, should be elected
the next President of the United States. Mike is a principled
conservative, a friend of homeschooling, a man of character, and a man
with a mature faith in Jesus Christ.
Mike Huckabee, as governor, was the first to appoint a homeschooler to
the Arkansas State Board of Education, and to our knowledge the first
to do so in any state. He is adamantly opposed to the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child and is committed to stopping the
erosion of parental rights. He is pro-life. He supports traditional
marriage. He believes that the Internal Revenue Service should be
abolished and replaced with the Fair Tax–a move that we strongly
support because it would greatly benefit homeschooling families. He
believes and is willing to say that Islamic extremism needs to be
understood as a theologically driven threat. He believes that America
must be strong, but should never be perceived as a bully. He believes
that our borders must be secured not only from illegal immigration but
from the growing trend among American judges of “illegally importing”
international law into our American judicial systems.
There are a few other candidates in the race who are properly
described as principled conservatives. None of the media’s
“frontrunners” would qualify for this designation. But we believe that
Mike Huckabee is by far the best communicator in the race–he is able
to articulate his conservative principles in an incredibly winsome and
articulate manner. Moreover, among the principled conservatives,
Huckabee is the only one who has been a governor. And we have not
elected members of either the Senate or the House–and certainly not a
mayor–as President of the United States in nearly a half century.
We believe that Mike Huckabee may be the only candidate in the race
who could defeat Hillary Clinton in 2008.
Homeschoolers tend to be more politically active than the average American, and they tend to be socially conservative. So even if homeschoolers make up only 2% of the population, they may make up 5-10% of Republican primary voters. They also have schedules that are flexible: many would love to have their kids learn how American politics works by working on an actual political campaign, rather than sitting (or is that sleeping) through “Civics” class. Therefore, they may excel at grassroots politics, and may be able to counteract some of the money advantages of a major candidate.
An endorsement such as the HSLDA gave to Mike Huckabee may have been the factor that got him into second place, and gives him the chance to become a more serious contender for the nomination.