By nobody’s estimation is Jon Huntsman anything but a long-shot for the Republican presidential nomination. He lags far behind such big names as Rick Perry, who is number one in the polls, Mitt Romney, who is number two, and Michele Bachmann, coming in at third. By comparison, Huntsman barely registers. If you look at the Republican-friendly Rasmussen poll of September 1 you’ll see that Huntsman ranks just below the abysmally hopeless Rick Santorum, and losing to President Obama 44 percent to 28 percent.
If you look at RealClearPolitics, you see Huntsman barely registering. This guy is nearly flatlined. Gallup doesn’t add any hope to Huntsman’s bleak outlook. His “positive intensity score” is below all other Republican hopefuls, including (again) Santorum. Nobody knows who the former Utah governor is. He’s got the same image problem as Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, who already recognized the writing on the wall and dropped out after the Iowa Straw Poll. Huntsman, for his part, isn’t even competing in Iowa. He recognizes that his stance on ethanol makes him unpopular there.
Gallup shows Huntsman is not as polarizing a figure as say, Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich, but that won’t help if nobody knows who he is and he has the lowest recognition number among all Republican contenders.
Sarah Palin 97
Rudy Giuliani 91
Mitt Romney 88
Michele Bachmann 85
Newt Gingrich 85
Ron Paul 78
Rick Perry 75
Rick Santorum 52
Herman Cain 50
Jon Huntsman 43
He is not terribly controversial and most of his agitating remarks have been directed so far at his fellow Republican hopefuls. On Thursday, for example, appearing on NBC’s Today Show, Huntsman took shots at Romney, Perry, and Bachmann saying of them that “we’re getting drama but not solutions.”
A candidate needs something to set them apart – this is a problem for all Republican candidates who are selling more of the same. Huntsman unveiled his “jobs plan” in New Hampshire on Wednesday and it’s pretty standard fare, including elimination of taxes on capital gains and dividends, lowering business taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent and cutting the tax rate for the richest Americans by more than a third. He wants to cut just about everything that benefits all but the rich and corporations. He also said he would eliminate “Obamacare” and the Dodd-Frank oversight bill, and of course, took the obligatory shots at the EPA. If this is moderation, we can do without it. The Wall Street Journal gushed positive in an editorial about Huntsman’s jobs plan Thursday but it’s difficult to see where it really sets him apart from any other nihilistic GOP economic platform.
A FOX News poll conducted at the end of August isn’t any more helpful. This shows Rick Perry at the top with 26 percent, Mitt Romney second with 18 percent, and Jon Huntsman with 1 percent, after the almost universally unwanted Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rudy Giuliani, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum. If you pare the list down to just the announced candidates (excluding Palin and Giuliani for example) it doesn’t get any better: Huntsman is still at the bottom of the heap. It’s pathetic. I mentioned above that he is not polarizing, and the FOX News poll confirms this, putting Bachmann at the top of the list, followed by Perry and Palin and Ron Paul in that order, with Jon Huntsman at the bottom.
It’s beginning to look as though Huntsman’s best bet may have been to stay on as Ambassador to China, serving Obama rather than trying to topple him. Back in April you could already see the writing on the wall. As the New York Times reported, 5 percent viewed him favorably, 1 percent unfavorably, and 90 percent had nothing to say because they had “not yet formed an opinion about him.” Ouch.
An IBOPE Zogby presidential poll from July 25, before Perry tossed his hat into the ring, put Huntsman at the bottom, topping only the nearly moribund Newt Gingrich, who is about to lose his only fundamentalist backer to Rick Perry, getting 3 percent to Gingrich’s 1 percent and lagging far behind frontrunner Michele Bachmann (25 percent). You can’t even say Perry killed Huntsman’s hopes – he simply never had any – not a one.
Oscar Wilde said the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Rick Santorum might disagree (at least where Google is concerned) but nobody is talking about Jon Huntsman and that is likely to be his doom.
Now it turns out, reports the New York Times Caucus blog, Huntsman has shaken up his New Hampshire campaign, firing his state director there (the Union Leader, which broke the story calls it a firing – Huntsman’s campaign calls it an amicable parting). The Huntsman campaign may act like this is no big deal but he’s already switched campaign managers and lost two aids as a result of the shakeup. The latest Quinnipiac poll has Huntsman dead last and I’d say he is on a rocky road to a very narrow horizon, one that is very likely to set on him sooner rather than later.