In a normal election cycle Jon Huntsman is a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination but of course this has been a cycle where the likes of Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann were front-runners. The former Utah governor ran to the wishy-washy middle instead of thumping his chest full of conservative medals at a time when his national party is ready to throw overboard all those who do not toe the Tea Party line. With snark infested Twitter potshots like "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." it often seemed that the Huntsman campaign was more interested in winning the media primary than it was the GOP base.
His campaign dumped all of its resources into the moderate libertarian New Hampshire primary in hopes of making a big splash while skipping the socially conservative Iowa caucus, ultimately failing and placing a distant third behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. At his Manchester election night party Huntsman proclaimed that his disappointing finish gave him a "ticket to ride" to the South Carolina primary though it remained unclear how he would do well there. Huntsman was able to not get embarrassed in New Hampshire because he spent an eternity there and appealed to independents and Democrats, something that is not of much use in South Carolina even though it is an open primary state. With a strong second place showing or a dramatic win there it is still hard to imagine how Huntsman would have gone on to win in the other states.
With Huntsman gone most of his voters will scatter to Romney and Paul while smaller blocks go to Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Oh, and 9% of Huntsman backers picked former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer as their second choice. Romney gains the most from Huntsman bailing because he picks up a big endorsement and a chunk of votes that will likely help him win in South Carolina while bringing him one step closer to the GOP nomination.
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