Conservative columnist Michael Barone has prompted a number of web comments today about his suggestion that Mike Huckabee could be the Republicans Jesse Jackson. Huck could, Barone writes, leverage his appeal to evangelical and other base Republican voters perhaps all the way to the nomination thanks to Iowa's early influence and the Republican winner-take-all primary system. But would he most likely wind up like Jackson, with a significant constituency that can't give him better than a second or third place finish for the nomination?
Here's where number cruncher Nate Silver at 538.com comes in. Silver notes that in 2008 Huckabee did not dominate among evangelical Republican voters and did very poorly among non-evangelicals. His problem might be, Silver suggests, that he has too much crossover appeal to conservative Democrats with some of his populist views, something that could hurt him in the primary. Silver concludes that the best bet for Huck is to "stay in hibernation" in 2012.