Salena Zito

Huckabee attributes his surge in the Iowa polls to his authenticity as a candidate. “Well, to be coarse, Iowans like their BS to be on the ground so that they can step around it, not (have it) thrown at them by candidates,” he says. “They want to know, when a person is speaking, that he is telling what he really believes.”

If Huckabee is the story coming out of Iowa, he needs to remember that not all previous Republican stories out of Iowa did all that well. Remember 1988? Bob Dole and Pat Robertson were first and second in Iowa while George H.W. Bush ran third.

Huckabee is spending the bulk of his time in Iowa now, with brief forays to New Hampshire. Yet like Obama, he has no plans on being a “one-hit wonder.”

“I know I need to go to New Hampshire with momentum,” he says. “I cannot go there from a point of inertia.”

For either man, Iowa wins will be short-lived celebrations. If both win, smart money has them on airplanes to New Hampshire before their victory nights are over.

Iowa can be a notoriously bad predictor of political futures. Not only is it not particularly representative of American demographics, it is a caucus state appealing to activists in both parties.

If they win, Obama and Huckabee need to make the case that neither is an Iowa anomaly and that they can deliver the general election to their parties.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.