Starting late Friday afternoon the GOP grassroots was abuzz. Folks that had organized, committed dollars, pledged volunteer efforts--sizable in historic proportions--were about to finally know the fate of the undisputed front runner for the GOP nomination for 2012.
In more polls, in more states, by more national pollsters, and consistently in polls pitted against President Obama head to head, no candidate had experienced greater "virtual" success dating back to February of 2010 than Governor Mike Huckabee. For more than one full year, President Obama had lost poll after poll to Governor Huckabee, while soundly defeating potential candidates Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and the litany of also rans.
Questions had been raised about Huckabee's ability to raise money, but in recent days, specific, targeted meetings with some of the largest money-persons and bundlers available had made it clear a Huckabee candidacy would be well endowed.
Questions were raised about his policy positions in 2008, but ever since--on a daily basis--Governor Huckabee had made his case clear to an audience that used to gain similar insights from Paul Harvey on more than 600 radio stations. Then of course his ratings bonanza on Fox News was added like ice cream on apple pie. Consistently he didn't just win his timeslot on Saturday evenings, but would beat all other weekend news programming on Saturday nights. Frequently the Sunday night replays of his show would garner second place in all of weekend cable news.
Questions had been raised about his family's concerns and the emotional and physical toll a campaign cycle has on relationships. But Governor Huckabee made it clear Saturday evening at roughly 9:56pm EST, his decision was not based on money, platform/name recognition, nor family concerns.
All of the outstanding questions being answered, he explained that it all came down to a decision within--and that he was at peace with what he had decided. He was out. Period.
His absence in the 2012 contest, leaves an enormous hole for the most reliable block of GOP voters in the country: evangelicals. His absence in the debates leaves the spotlight for someone else--given that he was largely considered the winner of all the GOP debate contests in the 2008 race. His absence removes the only candidate the GOP had, that was consistently polling ahead of Obama, every week, in nearly every poll, and across a broad coalition of voting groups--including blacks, hispanics, and other non-traditionally GOP leaning categories.