PardonMyFrench - Before my comment, just a clarification point. I like Mike Huckabee. I've never worked for him or his PAC and of course made no donations to his 2008 campaign (I maxed out on McCain). I also did grow to like him more because he helped us out on the McCain campaign by always attacking Mitt Romney. If he ever became a client of ours, I'd gladly work for him/PAC. Back to the commentary on this issue....
During the 2008 primary season there were 2 negative issues that followed Huckabee – the soft on crime with the large amount of clemencies and his tax, spending record in Arkansas; as I recall, Club for Growth was pounding Huckabee on this record. I don't remember for sure, but I believe Club for Growth ran anti-Huckabee TV ads in primary states, but can't be sure.
While he clearly appeals to the value/social conservatives the hard on crime, anti-tax/anti-spending crowd will NEVER let this die especially out of the gate in the next primary season. He’ll get hounded by anyone positioning themselves to the right of him - let alone anyone trying to position themselves as an electable moderate. I'm thinking the attacks on McCain for immigration reform, but in Huckabee's case there is documented numbers to back up these talking points.
Back in 2008, Huckabee came out of nowhere in Iowa, was an after thought in NH, NV, MI, setting up the battle in South Carolina with McCain which was really Huckabee's last stand. I could literally write a research paper on all of the targeted advertising we did in South Carolina to minimize Huckabee's impact in the state (I also campaigned in the state for McCain) - display ads, click to play video ads, in-state regional media buys, paid search, etc
In between IA and SC it was McCain versus Romney, followed by McCain's win in Florida (final round versus Romney) and then onto Super Tuesday which turned into a victory lap for McCain.
Other than SC, we pretty much left him alone. Huckabee won’t be afforded this “luxury” to be viewed as an unknown next time around; the other candidates will come after him from start on these two issues.
I like him, but I think this episode makes it very difficult for him. I wouldn’t be shocked if he stays out of the race. Then again, his PAC is popular, he has his own platform on his radio show, and there are plenty of social conservatives (there is potentially Palin to worry about and I doubt she'd leave him alone).