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Is there room for Mike Huckabee in the 2016 race?

In 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee won the critical Iowa Republican caucuses by rallying the support of evangelical conservatives. The former pastor-turned-politician was out-financed by establishment candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney, but he nevertheless made a strong second-place showing in 2008, thanks to his standing among social conservatives.

If Huckabee makes a second bid for the presidency, as he has hinted he might, he'll benefit from the base of support he built in Iowa eight years earlier. He can't, however, take their support for granted.

"2016 is not 2008," warned Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats, who served as Huckabee's Iowa campaign chairman in 2008. "The environment has completely changed, there's issues that are more in the forefront today, [and] the nation is more polarized."

On top of all that, Huckabee would face some stiff competition in 2016 for the social conservative vote. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made a direct appeal to evangelical voters when he announced his presidential campaign last month at Liberty University, the world's largest Christian college. Earlier in the year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker electrified the crowd of social conservatives at the Iowa Freedom Summit.

"I think Gov. Huckabee has a strong foothold already among the base of the party, the Christian conservatives, especially in Iowa," Vander Plaats said. "I think Gov. Huckabee also knows there are several candidates that will make strong appeals to that base, and he knows he's going to earn every vote back that he had in '08 -- and he's going to have to expand the base if he's going to be successful in 2016."

While the political landscape has clearly changed since 2008, Huckabee would have to once again build a presidential campaign on a base of Christian support.

"Religious conservatives punch way above their weight in Republican primaries," Drake University Prof. Dennis Goldford told CBS News. "These folks vote overwhelmingly Republican, and they believe that President Obama and the Democrats aligned with him represent a threat to the American way of life. They are extremely energized, and they always have been."

The constituency is especially crucial in Iowa, where 57 percent of Republican caucus-goers in 2012 identified as born-again Christian or evangelical Christian. "You can't win with them alone, but you cannot win without them here in Iowa," Goldford said.

Huckabee has made headlines this year with various remarks that conveyed his socially conservative views. He chastised the president and first lady for allowing their daughters to listen to racy Beyonce songs, while he also bemoaned the fact that women in the workplace now feel free to use curse words.

"For a woman to say [curse words] in a professional setting, we would only assume that this is a very - as we would say in the South, that's just trashy," Huckabee told an Iowa-based radio show.

The former governor has also spoken out on one of the most biggest social controversies of the year -- the battle over the treatment of same-sex couples in Indiana and other states that have enacted a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

"There's been more pressure this week to put sanctions on Indiana than Iran," Huckabee recently lamented on CNN, blaming the "militant gay community" for pressuring major corporations into opposing the law.

However, the other potential 2016 contenders are also speaking out in defense of RFRA -- and any one of them could win over Iowa voters who may have otherwise supported Huckabee, Vander Plaats said.

"Two weeks ago, I would've said Scott Walker" would challenge Huckabee for the Christian vote, he said. "Today, I would probably say it's Ted Cruz... In a few weeks, it might be [Louisiana Gov.] Bobby Jindal."

Recent GOP polls out of Iowa show Huckabee typically winning double-digit support along with Walker, Sen. Rand Paul, former Gov. Jeb Bush and tea party favorite Ben Carson.

In a recent national CBS News poll that asked Republicans who they would consider supporting for the presidential nomination, Huckabee came in second. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush came in first with 51 percent of GOP voters saying they would vote for him, while Huckabee garnered support from 42 percent.

Huckabee contends that his candidacy would rely on more than just the support of Christian voters.

"Certainly, they're an important part of the base that I enjoyed back in 2008," he told CBS' Face the Nation. "But I think the untold secret is that a lot of the support that I had, and I anticipate that I will have, is from the working-class, blue-collar people who grew up a lot like I did, not blue blood, but blue collar. There's a real sense in the Republican Party that there's no one speaking, not only to them, but speaking for them. And if someone can capture both the blue-collar, working-class Republicans, the conservatives, many of them even union members, as well as evangelicals, there's a real pathway to the nomination."

Huckabee honed in on that message in a video recently released by his nonprofit advocacy group, America Takes Action.

"I'm not a Republican because I grew up rich. I'm a Republican because I didn't want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me," Huckabee says in the video, in which he touts the idea of "maximum wage" as an alternative to a "minimum wage."

Huckabee explained the idea further on his website: "Instead of increasing the number of weeks of unemployment, where we pay you to not work, why not pay for your training to learn a skill that will get you to Maximum wage?"

Along with broadening his appeal, Huckabee will also have to build a strong on-the-ground organization in Iowa if he wants to win.

"You can be the best candidate in the world, but if you don't have a good team to identify your supporters and turn them out to vote, you may not go that far," Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition (IFFC), told CBS News. "Execution is going to be extremely important, especially when the field is so wide open."

Other potential 2016 candidates like former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are already building out teams across the state, Scheffler noted.

Huckabee, meanwhile, is making himself visible in Iowa. The IFFC just announced that he will joining a number of other presidential hopefuls at its 15th Annual Spring Kick-Off later this month. On Thursday, he's joining reality television stars Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar for a roundtable discussion around education in Des Moines.