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Huntsman began his campaign hoping to be the establishment alternative to Romney, but Romney so far hasn’t stumbled and seems to have the Romney vote sewed up. Lately, Huntsman has toughened his rhetoric and shifted rightward, but that part of the field remains crowded. It seems unlikely that a patrician fan of Captain Beefheart is going to outmaneuver Rick Santorum and Rick Perry for the conservative vote.
“His boosters hope that [Huntsman’s] surprising third-place finish will help bring in some more financial support, but there’s still not much evidence he has a path to the nomination,” wrote Politico’s Maggie Haberman Wednesday morning.
Plus, Huntsmentum is about to hit a palmetto wall in the next primary state, South Carolina.
Where New Hampshire is quirky and libertarian, South Carolina is more evangelical and reliably conservative. Last time around, in 2008, only 18 percent of voters in the South Carolina GOP primary described themselves as independent. Almost 70 percent self-identified as conservative.
“South Carolina is essentially a non-starter for Jon Huntsman,” writes the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin Wednesday on her conservative blog “Right Turn.”
The prediction market Intrade now puts Huntsman’s chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination at 1.9 percent. That’s ... very low. His personal wealth can keep Huntsman going, if he chooses to tap it. He could wait out a primary or two to see if Newt Gingrich’s and Rick Perry’s attacks on Romney as a heartless buy-out capitalist damage the front-runner. But right now he might be thinking as much about positioning himself for a possible run in 2016, if Mr. Obama wins reelection, as about the 2012 race.