Reputation Audit: Mike Huckabee

April 29, 2014, 9:29 AM GMT+0

Republicans overwhelmingly like and trust the former Arkansas Governor, but there's no groundswell of support for a Huckabee presidential run

If former Arkansas Governor and talk show host Mike Huckabee should choose to run for President in 2016, he has one thing in his favor: Republicans overwhelmingly believe him, like him, and think he shares their values. But like other possible GOP candidates assessed in Economist/YouGov Polls, there is no groundswell of support for a Huckabee presidential run.

In Economist/YouGov Polls conducted in the last month, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush faced the same lack of enthusiasm from Republicans. Barely a third of Republicans thought each of them should run, and in the case of Christie and Jeb Bush, more Republicans opposed a run than favored one.

Huckabee’s strength is honesty. By more than four to one (65% to 15%), Republicans say he is more likely to say what he really believes than to try and tell people what they want to hear. More than half – 52% – agree that he is more honest than most people in public life. These results are better than the evaluations Republicans give to Bush and Christie. Although Rand Paul does just about as well as Huckabee when it comes to speaking his mind, just 40% of Republicans describe Paul as more honest than most politicians.

In fact, the words people with a favorable opinion of Huckabee use to describe him tend to focus on honesty.

Those with a favorable view of Huckabee also note his religion (he is an ordained minister). He scores very well with Republicans on values and his ideology. Two-thirds of Republicans say he shares their values. That is higher than the percentage of Republicans who say that about Bush, Paul or Christie. In addition, 63% of Republicans describe Huckabee as a conservative, more than say that about the other three possible presidential contenders.

Most Republicans describe themselves as conservative, which may make Huckabee a good ideological match for his party.

Republicans also see Huckabee as caring about their needs and problems: In fact, 43% of them say he cares about the needs and problems of people like themselves “a lot.” 36% say that about Rand Paul, while fewer than one in five think Jeb Bush or Chris Christie cares a great deal about their needs and problems.

Huckabee is also very well-liked personally by Republicans. 72% like him personally – at least a little, more than say they like Bush, Paul or Christie, though Paul is a close second.

But Huckabee’s religion and his conservatism work against him, particularly with those outside the Republican Party they are much more likely to hold negative views of the former Governor. Huckabee’s religion, considered as a positive by those who like Huckabee, also has a negative side for those who don’t. So does his ideology. Huckabee’s status as both a current television personality and a former 2008 candidate for the GOP makes him fairly visible.

Like other potential 2016 GOP nominees, and despite his previous run for the office, Huckabee may not yet be seen as Presidential by the overall electorate. By 35% to 21%, Americans say they would be uneasy with his approach to an international crisis. Only 27% say he is qualified to be President, and 41% disagree.

However, Huckabee does get credit for his qualifications with a majority of Republicans, more than think Bush, Paul or Christie is qualified for the job. Still, just as is the case with the other three possibilities, finds one in four Republicans say Huckabee lacks presidential qualifications. .