Mike Huckabee's out-of-nowhere ascent in the Republican race—from single digits in September to the lead in Iowa and South Carolina—brings to mind another former presidential contender: Howard Dean. Pundits are comparing the two campaigns, often to imply that Huckabee might ultimately crash and burn as well.
Why It Works
In both cases, an obscure but successful (and surprisingly moderate) small-state governor shocks by galvanizing a crucial, impassioned constituency dissatisfied with its party's better-known nominees. For Huck, that's the religious right; for Dean, it was the antiwar left. The result: a near tripling in national polls from summer to fall.
Why It Doesn't
Dean was ahead nationally among Dems in December 2003; Huck still trails Rudy Giuliani by double digits. Huckabee's tone is inclusive, Dean's was furiously partisan. And Huck's war chest (less than $5 million to date) is also much smaller. He'll need more cash to help avoid the second thoughts that sank Dean.