Huckabee has declared that he doesn't believe in evolution. Even if there are many people in America who agree with him, his position would play into the image of Republicans as the anti-science party. This would tend to push away independents and upper-income Republicans. In short, Huckabee would take a strength of the GOP and, through overplaying it, make it a weakness.But, wait. Republicans are the anti-science party. Evolution's conflict with the Bible is the lever used to dispute rationality -- you can't cut taxes, raise spending, and call yourself fiscally responsible if you believe in Math. You just shout loudly and point at the Laffer curve. And they've been successful to the point where a talk show host can contend that the Earth's flatness is an open question.
You don't have a large outcry from the GOP when Gail Norton ordered an impact evaluation on reindeer of drilling in the Alaskan Native Wildlife Reserve changed, because they're the anti-Science party. They're pro-technology. They're strong advocates of diverting public money to high tech industries. But, they don't like Science interfering with public policy.
I don't want to be defending Governor Huckabee, but I do believe he'll be the nominee. And, I can only interpret Rich Lowry's column as an attempt to strike a blow for Mayor Giuliani, as he's the only GOP candidate willing to express a public belief in Evolution (I could be wrong on this, but I did look around some.) Sorry, besides Ron Paul, but he does seems to be visiting from another party, which one might call the Libertarians. I think Republicans are sensing that Mr. Giuliani's squalid corruption might hurt them in the general, even if he manages to stay out of prison until November.
The antagonism toward Science hurts public education, and research itself, but drives why Climate Change seems to be a partisan issue. Well, that and Democrats are overrepresented on the coasts.