Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Huntsman's Chances

Every four years pundits from throughout the country and around the globe focus as lasers on the voters in New Hampshire.  A few weeks in most believe they have a solid grasp  of what makes the Granite State's electorate tick.  Reporters and talking heads pontificate at length as to why one candidate is sure to emerge as the winner of this quadrennial event called the presidential preference primary.  Sometimes they are right, often they are wrong.

The proliferation of poll results are reflective of a revolving door.  They are supposedly conducted by questioning potential primary voters, yet their reliability has proven questionable.  There are certainties in this season's Republican race, not all of which are reflected in polls.
  • There will be a winner and more than one loser.
  • The winner will not necessarily be the party's eventual nominee.
  • Despite what the candidates say about competing in all 50 states, it won't happen...never has, never will.
  • Once again, New Hampshire will prove to be the great winnower of the field, narrowing it to no more than three viable contestants.
  • The second place finisher will go on and prove that it isn't necessary to finish first in the drive to  carry the party's banner toward the 2012 election in November.
As it stands today, former Massachusetts Gov. Willard Mitt Romney will be the number one choice of New Hampshire Republicans.  Of the two spots remaining of the viable three, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will likely fill one of the spots, and don't be surprised if one of the national media's least covered, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, sneaks into the number two spot.

One thing my years of covering politics in New Hampshire taught me is that the Granite Staters are cagey, seldom showing their hand before entering the voting booth.  Remember Jimmy who?  When the little known governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, was campaigning he was given little shot at winning the state's primary and going on to capture the White House.  Like it or not, he emerged atop the Democratic Party's pile in 1976 and survived a challenge within his own party four years later.  Winning the GOP nod in New Hampshire but failing to gain their party's nomination were such notables as Pat Buchanan in 1996 and John McCain in 2000.  Bill Clinton failed to win over the state's Democrats in 1992, finishing second, and neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama got the state's endorsement.  Both Bush and Obama proved that finishing second wasn't a bad thing.

So, what about Huntsman?  He seems to be running a stealth campaign, flying just far enough below the radar that the only attention he gathers is that of the people who really matter, the GOP voters.  He has said on more than one occasion that he will be quite happy finishing second, and I for one will not be surprised if he meets that goal.  As for the darling of the state's largest newspaper, Gingrich, the harder Gingrich campaigns and the longer it drags on the better for everyone else in the contest.  As for the remainder of the crowded field, forget about it; maybe in another four years.

Wait four years?  Most likely.  See, Mr. Ego, Donald Trump, is so bent on ousting President Obama that he has made it perfectly clear that if Republicans don't nominate someone of his liking, he will strongly consider running as an independent.  If he choses to do so, the only beneficiary of his candidacy will be Obama.  So the President's team must be looking forward to The Donald's entry into the fray.  It would be Christmas in November.

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