Huntsman and Electability

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 1 2011 9:25 AM

Huntsman and Electability

Peter Hamby talked to possible political allies of Jon Huntsman and -- sit down for this one -- they argued that Huntsman was electable with a lot of space to beat Mitt Romney.

"There is a lot of room on the center-right side of the aisle for Jon," the adviser said. "But he isn't going to take a back seat to anyone. He cut taxes and cut spending as governor and had a free-market based health care plan, unlike Obama and Romney. And he is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment."

The adviser added that Huntsman's perceived squishiness on other topics - along with working for President Obama, he broke with his party on flashpoint issues like civil unions and climate change while governor - could be an asset in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary, which allows independents to cast ballots.

Advertisement

Because John McCain won the GOP nomination in 2008, there's this idea that a "center-right" candidate could win the nod again. I don't see it. Apart from luck, McCain had a terrific advantage -- he was seen as the most electable candidate the party had, in what was obviously going to be a tough year.

Let's leave aside the quirky New Hampshire and Michigan primaries and the Iowa caucuses. It was in South Carolina where McCain overcame his problems with the Republican base, and eked out a 33-30 win over Mike Huckabee. But one reason for that win was the perception that McCain was electable. According to the exit poll , 43 percent of voters believed that McCain had the best chance of winning the general election, but only 23 percent said Huckabee did. McCain's victory over Mitt Romney in Florida was also close, 36-31. But he had a 13-point lead, 46-33, on electability .

When do we start seeing polls that show Huntsman ahead of Barack Obama in 2012 trial heats? That's when we see Huntsman overcoming his problems with the GOP base.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.