People across the country are scratching their heads after last night's Iowa Caucus victory for Mike Huckabee. The bulk of the analysis focuses on how Huckabee was able to attract evangelical voters (i.e. the dreaded "Christian right") to his message and get them to caucus for him instead of the other candidates. They're onto something, but I don't think they've gone deeply enough into the psyches of the evangelical voters to get at the heart of the victory.
Right now is a scary time for believers in Christ. At home, we seem to be straying further and further from something that even resembles a Christian nation. (Yes, I know, this is a bone of contention with some, but evangelicals by and large believe America is a Christian nation, so that point is key to understanding the Huckabee victory.) Abroad, there's a relentless enemy that wants to enslave or destroy America by any means necessary. Those are pretty big things to try to address for any person, let alone a Christian.
Huckabee didn't run a campaign that overtly played into that fear, but he really didn't have to. By reaching out to evangelical voters, he sent them a message: I understand your fear, and I will quell it. Then, human nature kicked in, and Huckabee found himself a devoted group of voters who propelled him to victory in Iowa.
Now, the question becomes whether Huckabee can duplicate that formula in other states. Personally, I think he can with some states in the Bible Belt, but whether it will translate into a Presidential candidacy depends on the remaining caucuses and primaries and whether he can build on his Iowa experience. With a clear win, he can expect money to come in, but money may not be enough. He's going to have to draw on the unspoken fear among evangelical voters to keep the momentum going.
The problem I foresee with this strategy is that not every Christian is an evangelical, and they aren't all afraid of the world around them. Speaking personally, I'm not afraid of society being so crass, nor am I afraid of Islamic extremists who want me dead. Once you get rid of that fear, you see Huckabee for the man and leader he is.
And that's what Huckabee is afraid of.