Insiders doubt Mike Huckabee will run for president in 2012—but that's a shame for Republicans because, somewhat surprisingly, Huckabee is the clear frontrunner when it comes to public opinion. He ranked first ahead of 16 other prospective Republican candidates in the latest Gallup poll, and previous surveys have found him to be the most liked, the favorite of Fox News viewers, the preferred candidate of both early primary states and the South, and the strongest opponent when compared to President Obama. In fact, he's topped almost every 2012 survey since Obama was elected, Politico reports.
There are many possible reasons for Huckabee's appeal—some cite his cheerful demeanor, others the Fox show he hosts. But many, including party insiders and some members of the media, doubt Huckabee can make a serious run for the presidency because of his focus on social, not economic, issues—and because of several public gaffes, including controversial comments on Ted Kennedy and Obama's birthplace. Even so, polls suggest neither of those incidents damaged him in the realm of public opinion—and he enjoys notably low negative ratings, even among Democrats. Click for more on Huckabee. (Read more Mike Huckabee stories.)