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The Elephant In The Corn Field

Rasmussen has a remarkable Iowa poll out, showing Mike Huckabee widening his lead over Mitt Romney considerably. Overall, it puts him up 39 percent to 23 percent, with the rest of the field bunched together in single digits. (Giuliani has a lot to be concerned about here, too: A distant-third finish is bad for him, but not nearly as bad as fourth or fifth, which would be truly humiliating.) The numbers, volatile as they are, all look awfully good for Huckabee at the moment, but the figure I found most interesting was this one:

Ninety-four percent (94%) could identify Romney as the candidate who is Mormon.

That compares, according to Rasmussen, with 69 percent of voters nationwide and (oddly) just 65 percent of evangelical Christians. Unsurprisingly, Huckabee himself is playing a central role in educating Iowa--and the nation--about Romney's faith, as evidenced by a piece in the upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine:

I asked Huckabee, who describes himself as the only Republican candidate with a degree in theology, if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion. ‘‘I think it’s a religion,’’ he said. ‘‘I really don’t know much about it.’’ I was about to jot down this piece of boilerplate when Huckabee surprised me with a question of his own: ‘‘Don’t Mormons,’’ he asked in an innocent voice, ‘‘believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?’’

Early on, I thought Romney's Mormonism would be crippling to him in a GOP primary, but over time it didn't seem to be having much of an impact. Now, with Huckabee asking his "innocent" questions, it's getting harder to tell. 

--Christopher Orr