If Mike Huckabee wins the Iowa Republican Caucuses on January 3rd, don’t expect him to start pouring a lot of resources into New Hampshire for its primary which is held five days later. While a win in Iowa would give him enough momentum for decent finish in New Hampshire (perhaps second or third), it is not a place where he would be likely to win. The Granite State appears to be a bit too fiscally conservative and socially libertarian for the likes of an ordained Baptist minister who has demonstrated some left-of-center tendencies on issues such as taxes and illegal immigration.
Instead, his next big target would likely be South Carolina on January 19th. For one thing, it would give him more than two weeks to utilize the additional funds that would probably begin to flow into his political coffers following an Iowa win. But the main the reason, of course, is South Carolina’s strong evangelical base. Many of the “true believers” there who are currently leaning toward Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson might switch to Huckabee after seeing his show of strength in Iowa.
A win in South Carolina could then be used by Huckabee as a gateway to a win in a much bigger southern state, Florida, ten days later. He is already starting to cut into Rudy Giuliani’s once-overwhelming lead there and is now in second place in several recent polls. The battle for the GOP nomination could very well come down to a showdown in Florida between Huckabee and Giuliani. Florida is so important, not just because it’s the third most delegate-rich state for the Republicans, but because it serves as the last major lead-in to the Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses to be held just a week later, on February 5th.
While a win in Florida would not likely be enough to allow Huckabee to wrest New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut from Giuliani’s pocket, it would practically guarantee him wins on the same day in the southern and western states of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia. It would also make him competitive in Illinois, Colorado, and the biggest prize of all, California. Then, down the road, wins in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas could ultimately clinch the nomination for him.