Could Mike Huckabee actually be a serious candidate in the 2016 presidential race?

His name has been floating around as a potential contender in the GOP primary, but it is time to recognize the Fox News celebrity as a viable threat to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThere are many unanswered questions about FBI culture FBI agent who sent anti-Trump texts offers to testify on Capitol Hill Giuliani wants 'full and complete' investigation into Russia probe's origins MORE or any other Democratic challenger.

According to RealClearPolitics, Clinton would defeat Huckabee by 9.6 percentage points in a general election. While that number may seem like it doesn’t bode well for the Republican, it actually stacks up quite well when compared to the other candidates. Chris Christie would be defeated by 9.5 percentage points, Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul's neighbor sentenced to 30 days in prison over assault Dems best GOP as Scalise returns for annual charity baseball game The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? MORE by 9, Jeb Bush by 10, Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate rejects effort to boost Congress's national security oversight The Memo: Summit gives Trump political boost — with risks The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump, Kim make history with summit MORE by 11.5 and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzUS-China trade war is just the start of the struggle for global order Dem lawmaker: Migrant family separation policy 'is on all of us' Cruz wins charity basketball challenge against Jimmy Kimmel MORE by 13.8. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWhite House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies John Legend slams Paul Ryan for Father's Day tweet, demands end to family separation Trump faces Father’s Day pleas to end separations of migrant families MORE is the only potential candidate to have a significant advantage over Huckabee in this department as Clinton is expected to beat him by only 6.7 percentage points. However, that can be chalked up to huge name brand recognition after being on the Mitt Romney ticket in 2012.

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In a general election against Clinton, Huckabee is expected to garner 40.7 percent of the vote. No other potential Republican candidate fares that well against the “Hard Choices” author, with the exception of Ryan. The chairman of the House Budget Committee is expected to receive 42.3 percent, which is not astronomically higher than Huckabee. However, Huckabee does fare better against Clinton than Paul (expected to get 40.6 percent), Christie (39.1 percent), Bush (39.7 percent), Cruz (38 percent) and Rubio (37.5 percent). Of course, it isn’t a guarantee that Clinton will be representing the Democrats in the fall of 2016, but at this point she is the front-runner and polling against her can tell us something about the Republican candidates.

What it tells us about Mike Huckabee is something that we already knew. He is incredibly popular. The former Arkansas governor currently hosts the weekly talk show Huckabee on Fox News, used to host a daily radio program The Mike Huckabee Show and is the author of a plethora of bestselling books. He is seemingly everywhere in Republican circles and that will bode well if he chooses to run in 2016. Indeed, it puts him at a different level than his other potential GOP challengers.

According to Politico and Quinnipiac University, Huckabee came in second to Rand Paul in a June 24-30 Presidential Election 2016 survey of 620 Republican voters. That poll was incredibly close and was littered with a host of names. However, it would be silly to count Huckabee out of the race until we got confirmation from his camp that he won’t run.

But, if recent polls are any indicator, Huckabee should most definitely throw his name in an increasingly crowded hat.

In a July 13 Iowa Republican presidential caucus, Huckabee beat the field with 16.6 percentage points. That number was 3.3 points higher than the second place Bush. Some polls even put his lead at a whopping 5 percentage points and the news gets even better for Huckabee.

According to a recent RealClearPolitics national poll, he received 12 percentage points. That number put him just behind Bush (12.2 points) and Paul (13.2 points) and right in front of Christie (10.8) and Ryan (10.2). In a field filled with qualified candidates, it is a good sign that Huckabee is near the top this early on in the race. He clearly cannot simply be counted out.

A May 1 Washington Post poll of registered Republicans asked if the 2016 presidential primary was being held today, who would you vote for? Huckabee won the vote with 17 percent of voters leaning toward him. Jeb Bush was second with 14 percent and Rand Paul rounded out the top three with 10 percent. It is a clear fact that Huckabee is one of the most popular candidates in his party and that will give him the momentum needed for a presidential run.

In fact, according to a July 17 Gallup poll, Huckabee is the most liked potential GOP candidate. 33 percent of American adults polled had a favorable opinion of him and only 21 percent had an unfavorable opinion. That gives him a +12 net favorability rating (positive views minus negative views), the highest of the Republican contenders. His 54 percent familiarity score (number of adults familiar with him) trailed Christie (65 percent) and Bush (65 percent); however, that number beat the 52 percent average of the 11 Republicans included in the poll. All in all, this recent report adds even more stock to the potential of Huckabee in 2016.

It is clear that Mike Huckabee is definitely a serious candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Bery is a free-lance sports journalist.