Public Radio from UA Little Rock
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Iowa Caucuses: The View From Arkansas

2016 GOP presidential primary candidate Mike Huckabee

Former Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton is neck and neck with Senator Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination after last night’s Iowa Caucus results. However, there are many primaries left and political scientist Hal Bass says a close race in Iowa is good for Clinton.

“Iowa is not fertile soil for her and if Sanders can’t overwhelm her in a place like Iowa – and he didn’t – then it’s difficult to see how he competes on far less favorable terrain, such as in Arkansas on March 1,” Bass said.

On the Republican side, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is out of the presidential race after finishing among the last candidates in the Iowa Republican Caucuses.

Huckabee won Iowa eight years ago and he said, this time around, winning in early primaries would be part of his campaign strategy.

Early on, Huckabee took issue with the suggestion his campaign was being out shadowed by others, but Bass says Huckabee ultimately succumbed to the more crowded field and didn’t get the media attention he did in his last presidential campaign.

In particular the evangelicals, his core constituents in 2008, just abandoned him this time around, Bass says.

“I think that his very folksy campaign style in 2008, that appeared so attractive, really didn’t match the public mood, and in turn gave way – on his part – to a much more strident style that was unsuccessful in tapping into that public anger. In particular the evangelicals – his core constituents in 2008 – just abandoned him this time around,” Bass says.

Huckabee’s departure could run the risk of diminishing the appeal of the GOP primary in Arkansas.

“The departure of Huckabee from the field takes the kind of favorite son category out on the Republican side for Arkansas voters,” Bass said.

An endorsement from Huckabee could still carry some weight for remaining republican candidates. Bass says whether party figures in Arkansas follow Huckabee with their endorsements will be an indicator of his remaining political strength.

Nathan Vandiver is the former General Manager of UA Little Rock Public Radio.
Related Content