Win One for the Huckster

The Comparison
Mike Huckabee's insistence on staying in the primary race against John McCain, despite calls from his own party to quit, resembles Ronald Reagan's doomed GOP bid in 1976. Reagan fought Gerald Ford all the way to the convention, where he lost on a close first-ballot vote. He won the White House four years later. Could Huck do it, too?

Why It Works
In both cases, a two-term governor (Arkansas for Huck, California for Reagan) known for his rhetorical gifts runs to the right of a moderate, party-backed candidate. Longtime Reagan strategist Ed Rollins is now Huckabee's campaign chair and is advising him to use Reagan's '76 strategy as a blueprint for another run in 2012.

Why It Doesn't
A flurry of late primary wins got Reagan to within 100 delegates of Ford; Huck trails McCain by some 600 and seems unlikely to close the gap. Plus, Huck's support comes largely from religious conservatives. If he runs again, it's doubtful that he could rally the kind of broad coalition that Reagan built in 1980.