A look inside the New Hampshire results shows that Huntsman’s future on the campaign trail may not be a bright one. The former Utah chief executive has stressed his electability on the stump, but he won only 9 percent of New Hampshire voters who said in exit polls that the ability to defeat President Obama was the top attribute they wanted in a Republican candidate. Romney got 62 percent of those votes.
Nor was he the choice of self-described moderates. Romney won the largest share of those voters, too, with Paul second. In fact, the only category of voters who went Huntsman on Tuesday was Democrats, who were able to vote in New Hampshire’s open primary. Huntsman took 41 percent of them. That’s not a base on which a winning run at the GOP nomination is built.
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.