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Jon Huntsman’s Surge — Why a Huntsman 2nd place finish could significantly help Gingrich and/or Santorum

Jon Huntsman is now surging in the polls.  He is in 3rd place in NH, and has a shot at placing 2nd.  Should he surge into 2nd place it would have the following effects:

  1. It would further destroy Ron Paul’s campaign.  Paul will have finished 3rd in Iowa and NH — both states where he was 2nd in the polls on election day; but will have moved to 3rd on election night.  Such a result would further show him a fring candidate unable to win any GOP primary.
  2. It would give Huntsman a Santorum-like surge of momentum.
  3. It would provide the first moderate alternative to Mitt Romney

Despite what Ron Paul and Rick Perry voters may say, Santorum and Gingrich are currently splitting the conservative vote right down the middle.  Romney has the liberal vote all to himself, and much of the moderate vote.  Paul has a sliver of the conservative vote and his Paulites.  Perry has his group of Perry devoties, but no support beyond this small base.   Jon Huntsman would be the first canidate who could seriousily challenge Romney for the liberal to moderate win of the GOP.  If Huntsman takes off, the support would come largely from Romney, and would act to split the smaller liberal/moderate wing of the GOP, allowing either Gingrich or Santorum (or even both) to mount realistic campaigns for SC and potentially even FL.

While a 2nd place finish by Gingrich or Santorum would give them a boost, it would give Romney a larger boost.  However, a 2nd place finish by Huntsman would actually mean that some SC voters who would otherwise vote for Romney, may switch to Huntsman.  The same is true in FL and beyond.   Ideally, Huntsman can make it through Super tuesday and beyond where he can eat into Romney and force Romney to move left and fight left, opening up more room on the right for Gingrich and/or Santorum.

The winner of the Gingrich/Santorum conservative primary will eventually face the winner of the Romney/Huntsman liberal primary….the longer the liberal primary goes on, the better for conservatives.  Of course the same is true on the conservative side.

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