Post-Debate Polls: Huckabee By A Mile

I'm intrigued by the Insider Advantage insta-polls taken after the debate by 1,035 registered Republicans in Iowa and 341 undecided Republicans in Florida who said they watched Wednesday night's debate (h/t Pollster.) Because of polling rules, the participants dialed into the poll, not vice versa (hence, caveats apply) but these results are about as unambiguous as they come.

Iowa:

Huckabee: 32%
Romney: 16%
Giuliani: 12%
McCain: 10%
Thompson: 7%
Paul: 6%
Tancredo: 2%
Hunter: 0%
Rest: undecided

Florida:

Huckabee: 44%
Giulani: 18%
Romney: 13%
McCain: 10%
Thompson: 5%
Paul: 4%
Hunter: 1%
Tancredo: 1%
Rest: undecided

For me, it was a no-brainer. In fact, during the debate I was inspired to call my Republican parents to see if they were watching (my Dad had previously expressed enthusiasm for Huckabee.) They weren't. I went on to tell my Mom that if I were a Republican (she laughed) and I was watching the debate, I just don't see how you vote for anyone but Huckabee. He answered questions directly with a combination of humor and emotional resonance that almost had me convinced he could sell a tax hike and free college for illegal immigrants to a wingnut. The reason everyone else on that stage should be scared of Huckabee is that any positive qualities each of them is known for, whether rightfully or not, he actually possesses. Romney's slickness, except without the fakery; Thompson's good ole Southern boy charm except without the need to call "line" during every answer; McCain's straight talk that actually is; and Giuliani's apparent conviction and refusal to pander.

Now don't get me wrong, I actually don't think on the merits that Huckabee is a mainstream candidate, but his powers of persuasion  seemed pretty powerful. The big question of course is did anyone watch? If they did, I'd be willing to bet Huckabee's chances of securing the nomination increased significantly. It didn't hurt that a particularly mushy-mouthed Romney might as well have just invited Huckabee to steal the nomination from him.

An even more intriguing aspect of this Insider Advantage poll, though, is what happened in the room when Huckabee was informed that he'd won the debate according to poll respondents. This is the description, caps are theirs (I'll spare you the bold face.)

NOTE: OUR CAMERAS CAPTURED AN ALTERCATION WHICH OCCURRED WITHIN FEET OF GOVERNOR HUCKABEE AND WHICH CAUSED SECURITY TO BE SUMMONED.  WE WILL BE POSTING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AN UNEDITED VERSION OF OUR LIVE COVERAGE WHICH WILL INCLUDE THE ALTERCATION, AS WELL AS REACTION FROM GOVERNOR HUCKABEE UPON LEARNING OF THE RESULTS OF THE POLLS AS WELL AS AN INTERVIEW WITH HUCKABEE SUPPORTER CHUCK NORRIS.  WE WILL POST A CONSTANT CONTACT WHEN THE VIDEO IS AVAILABLE.

Very strange. If it's even half as intriguing in reality as it sounds, I'll follow up once the video is up. In the meantime, I think it's safe to say that exactly one guy on that stage had an exceptional night. The big question that remains: will it matter?

Update [2007-11-29 6:13:23 by Todd Beeton]: Oh and by the way, this may be the first and last time that 1,000 Iowa Republicans and the DailyKos community agree on something.

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GOP CNN/YouTube Debate Live Thread

Bumped - Todd

The debate begins at 8pm EST.

Watch it HERE and follow along in the comments. This should be a doozy.

Update: Don't forget to listen to MyDD Blog Talk Radio immediately after the debate.

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Giuliani Used City Agencies To Fund Adulterous Affair

The Politico does some digging.

As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York's Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

So as Giuliani went to visit his then super secret girlfriend Judith Nathan at her apartment in The Hamptons, his security detail (including round the clock police protection) incurred "hotel, gas and other costs" all on the tax payers' dime.

In other words, as David Dayen at The Right's Field calls it, Rudy was engaging in:

government-financed adultery.

Or perhaps alternatively: socialized shagging.

This story has already been picked up by traditional media outlets such as USA Today and even right-wing outlet Fox News, which is problematic for Rudy on several levels. Not only does it remind people of Giuliani's adultery, but, as Josh Marshall notes, it also hits him from a fiscal conservatism perspective as well. But perhaps worst of all for Rudy, this episode will likely associate him in people's minds with a certain someone to whom the GOP candidates shouldn't exactly be praying for comparisons. As Dayen notes:

The official secrecy, the abuse of the public trust - sound like somebody currently in the Oval Office that you know?

Because as it turns out, per The Politico, in an eerie echo (or foreshadowing as the case may be) of the excuse for secrecy routinely used by the man Giuliani seeks to succeed, when anyone started digging into the errant expenses...

At the time, the mayor's office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing "security."

As for a response from the Giuliani campaign, all The Politico notes is:

A Giuliani spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, declined to comment on any aspect of the travel documents or the billing arrangements.

A Giuliani aide who would speak only on the condition of anonymity denied that the unorthodox billing practices were aimed at hiding the expenses, citing "accounting" and noting that they were billed to units of the mayor's office, not to outside city agencies.

The aide declined to discuss Giuliani's visits to Long Island.

From the start, we knew that Giuliani would be a hard sell for the nomination if the media simply did its job and reported his extreme unfitness for office. Looks like, with a push from online outlets such as TPM, which currently features an extensive catalog of Rudy's ethical issues, and The Politico, we may be seeing the beginnings of the unraveling of Giuliani's entire "America's Mayor" persona and with it, any remnants of a rationale for his candidacy.

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Polling Is Starting To Catch Up To The Lameness of Thompson's Campaign

Some House Republican supporters of Fred Thompson are reportedly getting disillusioned with their candidate, whose campaign appears to be doing its darnedest to live up to the lazy boy image Thompson had from his senate days.

The disaffected members of team Thompson say he has failed to put to rest whispers that he is unwilling to campaign hard enough to win the presidency.

"He seems to be perpetuating it instead of defeating it," another dissatisfied Thompson backer said. "I can't see me bailing on him, but there's some frustration."

It is remarkable how unimpressive his campaign has been, especially considering the institutional support behind him (Mary Matalin comes to mind.) He's really not been much of a factor in the race at all, but until recently, he's remained fairly strong in the polls.

That appears to be changing.

What's amazing about Thompson's fall is what an opportunity he's squandered. Leading up to the September launch of his campaign, the stage had been set for him as the one "true conservative" in the race but he never really stepped up and filled that void. This vacuum allowed voters to become more comfortable with Romney as the conservative alternative (vis a vis the polls cited above, he's increased his lead in New Hampshire, is tied for 1st in South Carolina and replaces Thompson for 2nd place in Florida) and also seems to have given voters a chance to rediscover McCain's conservative bona fides (he's tied for 2nd in NH, tied for 1st in South Carolina...don't count this guy out.)

Add to all of this the ascendancy of Mike Huckabee in Iowa and you have a real 3-way fight to be the conservative alternative to Giuliani. The big question is will a consensus choice emerge in the early states or will a split conservative electorate give Giuliani the breathing room to execute his Florida onward strategy.

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Hilarious Huckabee Ad

I have to agree with Adam Conner in Breaking Blue that this Mike Huckabee ad may be one of the best political ads ever made. It plays off the whole "Chuck Norris Facts" phenomenon. This "fact" listed by Wikipedia is a particularly good one:

Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad Chuck Norris has never cried. Ever.

The ad also plays up Huckabee's sense of humor, which is evident anytime he speaks and is one of the more appealing things about him.

As a sidenote, my northeast Republican father (i.e. pro-choice, pro-environment -- although global warming skeptical, pro-gun control -- although a hunter, pro-gay rights, yet also a war and tax hawk) has expressed enthusiasm for Mike Huckabee, which threw me since he's been talking about voting for Giuliani for president since 2003. What it tells me is that Huckabee has appeal outside of his immediate religious right base and for that reason, we should beware his ascension, as we're seeing in Iowa in particular. Having said that, I do think he'd be fairly easy to beat since several of his views are outside the mainstream, but this guy should not be underestimated.

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