December 8th, 2007
12:08 PM ET
11 years ago

Poll: Huckabee opens up commanding lead in Iowa

Huckabee has a commanding lead in Iowa, according to a new poll.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new poll of Iowa voters conducted this week seems to show Mike Huckabee surging past the rest of the Republican field, beating his closest rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, by 22 points among Republicans, 39 to 17 percent.

In the latest Newsweek poll, released Friday, former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson slides to 10 percent, down from 16 in the last survey. No other candidate rates higher than single digit support.

Polling in Iowa is notoriously difficult because of the unpredictable nature of caucus attendance. And most recent surveys have pictured a much tighter race.

Still, the poll, conducted December 5 and 6, comes after weeks of momentum for the former Arkansas governor’s campaign, fueled by increased support from social conservatives, who form a major bloc of Iowa’s GOP caucus-goers.

Among likely Republican caucus-goers, the margin is just as wide. Fifty-seven percent name Huckabee as their first or second choice, and 39 percent give Romney as their first or second choice. Again, Thompson is third, with just 20 percent.

The Romney campaign said that the new survey showed a crowded field narrowing to a two-man race. “Iowa is in a competitive state right now as far as public polling is concerned,” said Kevin Madden, Romney’s spokesman, in an e-mail to CNN.

He also cast Mitt Romney as the campaign’s new underdog. "Mike Huckabee is leading and with that lead comes much higher expectations and a greater degree of scrutiny of his weak position on immigration and his penchant for big spending and higher taxes," he said.

A senior Romney adviser tells CNN's John King on the condition of anonymity that the poll result is "not a surprise" and there is "not a lot of time to turn them around," while another adviser says the 22 point lead for Huckabee sounds "a little extreme but he (Huckabee) is the moving part out there."

The poll finds the Democratic race appears far less settled. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton at 30 percent among Democratic voters in Iowa, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama at 29 percent, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards at 21 percent.

Among likely caucus-goers, however, Obama seems to outpace Clinton, 35 percent to 29 percent, with Edwards dropping to 18 percent. Obama also gets more support from those who say they will "probably" attend a Democratic caucus - 40 percent of that group say they will support him, while just 27 percent say the same for Clinton.

The poll of 1,408 registered Iowa has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. It included 540 Republican voters, for whom the margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points, and 275 likely Republican caucus-goers, for whom the margin of error is plus or minus 7 percent. On the Democratic side, it included 673 Democratic voters, for whom the margin of error is plus or minus 5 percent, and 395 likely Democratic caucus-goers, for whom the margin of error is plus or minus 6 percent.

The most recent American Research Group poll of Iowa voters appeared to show Romney and Huckabee essentially tied within the margin of error, 28 to 27 percent. The latest Des Moines Register survey seemed to show Huckabee beating Romney 29 to 24 percent. Both were conducted about two weeks ago.

- CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand, John King, and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report

Filed under: Mike Huckabee • Mitt Romney • Polls
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. Crystal A.

    By ANDREW DeMILLO, Associated Press Writer
    29 minutes ago

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Mike Huckabee once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public, opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure and said homosexuality could "pose a dangerous public health risk."

    As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press. Besides a quarantine, Huckabee suggested that Hollywood celebrities fund AIDS research from their own pockets, rather than federal health agencies.

    Huckabee said Saturday that his comments came at a time when the public was still learning about HIV and AIDS and promised to do "everything possible to transform the promise of a vaccine and a cure into reality."

    In 1992, Huckabee wrote, "If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague."

    "It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

    The AP submitted the questionnaire to both candidates in the 1992 senate race; only Huckabee responded. Incumbent Sen. Dale Bumpers won his fourth term; Huckabee was elected lieutenant governor the next year and became governor in 1996.

    When asked about AIDS research in 1992, Huckabee complained that AIDS research received an unfair share of federal dollars when compared to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

    "In light of the extraordinary funds already being given for AIDS research, it does not seem that additional federal spending can be justified," Huckabee wrote. "An alternative would be to request that multimillionaire celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor (,) Madonna and others who are pushing for more AIDS funding be encouraged to give out of their own personal treasuries increased amounts for AIDS research."

    Huckabee said in a prepared statement released by his campaign Saturday afternoon that he called for quarantine when there was a lot of confusion about how AIDS is spread. He said he wanted at the time to follow traditional medical practices used for dealing with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

    "We now know that the virus that causes AIDS is spread differently, with a lower level of contact than with TB," Huckabee said. "But looking back almost 20 years, my concern was the uncertain risk to the general population — if we got it wrong, many people would die needlessly. My concern was safety first, political correctness last."

    When Huckabee wrote his answers in 1992, it was common knowledge that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact. In late 1991, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 195,718 AIDS patients in the country and that 126,159 people had died from the syndrome.

    The nation had an increased awareness of AIDS at the time because pro basketball star Magic Johnson had recently disclosed he carried the virus responsible for it. Johnson retired but returned to the NBA briefly during the 1995-96 season.

    Since becoming a presidential candidate this year, Huckabee has supported increased federal funding for AIDS research through the National Institutes of Health.

    "My administration will be the first to have an overarching strategy for dealing with HIV and AIDS here in the United States, with a partnership between the public and private sectors that will provide necessary financing and a realistic path toward our goals," Huckabee said in a statement posted on his campaign Web site last month.

    Also in the wide-ranging AP questionnaire in 1992, Huckabee said, "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk."

    A Southern Baptist preacher, Huckabee has been a favorite among social conservatives for his vocal opposition to gay marriage. In 2003, Huckabee said that the U.S. Supreme Court was probably right to strike down anti-sodomy laws, but that states still should be able to restrict things such as gay marriage or domestic partner benefits.

    "What people do in the privacy of their own lives as adults is their business," Huckabee said. "If they bring it into the public square and ask me as a taxpayer to support it or to endorse it, then it becomes a matter of public discussion and discourse."

    December 8, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. George, IL

    Leading in poll despite all the scandals and wrongdoings around him? Isn't that very suspicious? What exactly has he done lately to boost up the poll? That little speech at the CFR?

    December 8, 2007 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. Paul Thompson

    News Release: Presidential Candidate, Governor Mike Huckabee Statement on AIDS Funding December 08, 2007
    Little Rock, AR – In the late 80’s and early 90’s we were still learning about the virus that causes AIDS. My concern, as a Senate candidate at the time, was to deal with the virus using the same public health protocols that medical science and public health professionals would use with any infectious disease.

    Before a disease can be cured and contained we need to know exactly how and with near certainty what level of contact transmits the disease. There was still too much confusion about HIV transmission in those early years. Recall that in 1991, Kimberly Bergalis testified in front of Congress after contracting HIV from her dentist, and that summer a study was published showing that HIV was transmitted through breastmilk more easily than had been thought. But the federal government provided some guidelines: Also in 1991 the Centers for Disease Control recommended restrictions on the practice of HIV-positive health care workers.

    At the time, there was widespread concern over modes of transmission and the possibility of epidemic. In the absence of conclusive data, my focus was on efforts to limit the exposure of the virus, following traditional medical practices developed from our public health experience and medical science in dealing with tuberculosis and other infectious diseases.

    We now know that the virus that causes AIDS is spread differently, with a lower level of contact than with TB. But looking back almost 20 years, my concern was the uncertain risk to the general population – if we got it wrong, many people would die needlessly. My concern was safety first, political correctness last.

    My administration will be the first to have an overarching strategy for dealing with HIV and AIDS here in the United States, with a partnership between the public and private sectors that will provide necessary financing and a realistic path toward our goals. We must prevent new infections and provide more accessible care. We must do everything possible to transform the promise of a vaccine and a cure into reality.

    Furthermore, I am proud that the United States has led the global battle against HIV/ AIDS. We have both a strategic interest as the world's only superpower and a moral obligation as the world's richest country to continue to do so until this scourge is a memory.

    I supported the current Administration’s proposal to double our initial commitment from $15 billion to $30 billion over the next five years for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR has already done an extraordinary amount of good, by providing drugs for over a million people and care for four-and-a-half million people, but it expires in 2008 and must be reauthorized. I support an increase in our commitment to the Global Fund. Through PEPFAR and the Global Fund, we can do our fair share to meet the Millennium Development Goals we affirmed in 2000, which include universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care.

    December 8, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. Anonymous, Denver, CO

    John from Colorado Springs: Read the Constitution....The FOUNDERS did not intend to have a preacher in the White House. The Huckster is a fraud. Look at the 14 ethics investigations while he served as governor of Arkansas. He and his wife purchased $70,000 worth of furniture for the statehouse at tax payer expense and attempted to take the furniture with them when they left office. And, as governor, he convinced a parole board to release a rapist who went on to murder a second victim and he's lying about his role in it. What's he going to do as President....give us a sermon while he slides his hands in our pockets? NO to Mike "the huckster" Huckabee!

    December 8, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. Jeremy Columbus, OH

    This is exactly why I won't vote Republican, true republicans would not pick a man like this. The republican party has been highjacked by the evangelical christians with they hate filled messages to anyone that is different from them. I guess we can all look forward to locking the gay people up to seperate them from society, carrying around bibles, and prayer in the middle of the street everyday during lunch time. The religious right in this country scares me to death, pretty soon Al Qaeda won't be the threat to our country, it will be the religious and radical right in our own country.

    December 8, 2007 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  6. Mike, Westport, CT

    I would much rather have Mike Huckabee than a man worse than Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani the philanderer. Who wants a president who, with his present wife, have six marriages between the two of them.
    Character does count. I would much rather Ron Paul but he can't win the nomination. Character does count.

    December 8, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  7. Bruce Barnes, Conroe, Texas

    America can not afford a Bush look-a-like in the White House.

    Mike Huckabee supports raising taxes 28.5 %
    The consumption tax will increase the tax on people about 28.5 %. Instead of individuals paying 60 % of taxes, they will pay 100% of the budget. In FY 2006, corporation income tax was 13.8 % of the federal budget and corporate employment taxes were 14.7 %. Under the “Fairtax plan,” businesses do not pay taxes.

    Does anyone want a Mormon faith based initiative?

    December 8, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  8. Michael Manhattan, Kansas

    Hey, I like Huckabee, but where's the coverage of McCain and Richardson and Biden? Maybe if you started covering them, their poll numbers would spike too.

    December 8, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  9. lane filler, Spartanburg, SC

    Anyone interested in what Huckabee is really like face to face should
    this funny (but it actually happened) column:

    December 9, 2007 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  10. chris

    Huck. I'm losing interest in your losing campaign.

    December 9, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. Matt Connelly Boston, MA

    A vote for Huckabee is a vote for Hillary. Huckabee sucks votes away from the only two candidates who have a real opportunity to win: Romney and Guiliani. Huckabee doesn't have nearly enough money or the ground organization to compete effectively, either in the primaries or the general election. Hillary would clean his clock. Republicans, please, don't throw your votes away on a slick talking guy wih little administrative skill and no money. Don't let Hillary Clinton in the White House again. I'm going with Romney.

    December 9, 2007 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6