Will Huntsman split the Mormon vote with Romney?

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Apparently it is not too early to start speculating on the 2012 election.  Ambassador (and returned missionary) to China, Jon Huntsman organized a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday.  Even the Wall Street Journal is curious about Huntsman’s presidential aspirations.  Asked about Huntsman’s presidential aspirations,

“I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary,” said President Barack Obama, flashing a broad smile, as laughter broke out in the room. (Deseret News)

While Mitt definitely has more name recognition, there is speculation that Obama picked Huntsman as Chinese ambassador not only because he speaks fluent Chinese from having served as a  missionary, but also to dampen Huntsman’s chances for a presidential bid.  Mitt is known as a flip-flopper, but Huntsman has no such baggage and could be a more formidable opponent.  On January 1, Huntsman hinted at a presidential run.  Romney seems to be gearing up for a presidential run too.

Huntsman served as governor of Utah from 2005-2009.  Both men are wildly popular in Utah.  Romney won the Utah republican presidential primary in 2008 with 90% of the vote.  Huntsman had an 80% approval rating while serving as governor, despite the fact (or because of–depending on your point of view) that he loosened up Utah’s restrictive liquor laws.  A recent poll shows that Huntsman would easily beat Senator Orrin Hatch if he chose to run for Senate.  So if Huntsman runs for president, will he split the Mormon vote with Romney?  Who do you like?

6 comments on “Will Huntsman split the Mormon vote with Romney?

  1. I don’t think Huntsman’s going to make a serious bid this election. Next time around, however, might be different. I hope he does run–a pro-science, pro-logic Republican would be nice for a change.

    Either way, I think it would be hilarious if one of them ran against Obama– Republicans in the South would go crazy over what they would view as a “Mormon v. Muslim” campaign. I wonder if they would bring in a third party, another Republican (or “Tea Party”), so they wouldn’t have to vote for Romney, and if that party would split the Republican vote and give Obama an easy win.

  2. Had you asked me back in 2007/2008 I would have said Romney. However, after seeing the flip-flopping in full effect I would definitely vote for Huntsman before Romney any day.

  3. When Romney ran the first time I was glad to support him. Not this year and for the same reason I wouldn’t Huntsman. Political tides have changed and where he would have been helpful in office in 08 election, he will be in the way of what needs to be done now in the 12 elections.Both their times have passed. This is the year when moderate Republicans will be trounced. Sure, early polls don’t show that. However, the straw polls are mostly by long term elitists. This time around the Tea Party is going to make some noise and NONE of them like Romney or Huntsman. His only chance is that no real Tea Party favorite materialized. I will be very surprised if either of them gets close to the Mormon support they did before.

  4. I think moderate Republicans will get trounced in the primaries, for sure, but the general electorate is much more moderate (obviously). With Obama swerving hard to the center, the only chance a Republican has to win is to try to beat him there but I don’t think the Republican primaries will nominate someone capable of that. A base-motivating tea-party Republican will also only serve to motivate the Democratic base who, generally, despise the tea-party (for all the wrong reasons, I might add).

    Anyway, I agree that Huntsman needs another four years to garner some name recognition, but a smart, centrist conservative who doesn’t get all preachy about moral issues, but has some religious cred, would be someone worth watching. That description fit Romney before the 2008 campaign, but he caved to the religious right. We’ll see if Huntsman does the same if he runs.

  5. Huntsman is not a practising Mormon and has some very different ideas from the mainstream LDS Church. He has greatly tried to distance himself from the Church in his campaign. His father is a great man and a good upstanding member of the community. Unfortunately it did not rub off on John JR.

  6. Whether Huntsman is a practicing Mormon or not does not bother me. I still think he was the best candidate out there. He was a fantastic governor.

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