After Mike Huckabee's decision not to run for president, some of the early Conventional Wisdom suggested that it could benefit Mitt Romney. Why? Because the void in Iowa might make it easier for Romney to possibly make a surprise in Iowa, and because it removed the potential field's top communicator.
But National Journal's Ron Brownstein has a different take -- that Huck supporters could consolidate behind a more formidable GOP rival to Romney.
The reason is that with Huckabee off the field, the former Baptist minister’s core constituency—the evangelical Christians who represent nearly half of the GOP’s primary electorate—are now back in play for all competitors. If Romney can’t defang the resistance he encountered from those voters in 2008, he faces the threat that they will eventually consolidate behind another contender, such as former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, with potentially wider support than Huckabee demonstrated last time. “The risk for Romney is that some other candidate with broader appeal may attract them, someone who could stitch together a majority coalition in a way that Huckabee was not going to do,” says veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres, who is working for potential presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman.