Jon Huntsman- 2016. A real possibility.

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A quick attempt to highlight how Jon Huntsman has the potential to win the 2016 election, after this 2012 attempt has been so unconvincing.

Submitted: January 03, 2012

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Submitted: January 03, 2012

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A few hours ago, the Iowa caucuses closed. Jon Huntsman didn’t campaign in Iowa, and scrapped what can only be described as a pathetic 734 votes. As the continued late runner in most straw polls, his chances for the nomination for the 2012 Republican nomination are next to nothing. This is not to say, however, that he couldn’t become the 45th President of the United States. This view is supported by two different trends in US politics; the need for name recognition in US elections, as well as changes to the GOP base that will play out in the 2016 election. From this will come a quick, rough, strategy on how a Huntsman political advisor could go about securing his candidate the nomination; all being dependent upon a Democratic victory this year.

Despite Jon himself saying that name recognition counts very little[1], this in fact runs counter to accepted knowledge of US politics. Indeed with very high incumbency rates in the US Congress, despite the rising number of independent voters indicates that far from being unimportant, elections are still being won on the basis that large numbers of people vote for people that they have heard of. Of course, this has become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy during election times, where the media is prone to calling the hopeful congressman (and woman) underdogs, diminishing their ability to succeed in the eyes of many potential voters. Similarly as many lobbyists are aware of this trend in elections, many PAC (political action committees) are known to sponsor the incumbent candidate, thus giving the incumbent vital financial advantages.

Although it could be argued that name recognition is only relevant for congressional elections, which happen every two years, and thus allow a quick recall of the politician’s name. This quick recall, however, is not constrained to House elections, indeed presidential elections, which draw large amounts of media coverage leave lasting impressions on the public. Indeed even today 4 years later Sarah Palin, John McCain and Joe the Plumber are still remembered by many voters. The clear advantage of this is that Huntsman will be facing a crowd that will be largely newcomers to the race to the White House, and thus will be spending larger portions of their budgets simply attempting to gain name recognition among voters, recognition that Huntsman has already accrued. Similarly, with a name that has been touted daily in the media, Huntsman will be in a position to attempt to attract far more PAC’s as a viable contender for the presidency then was possible during this latest primary, where the field was littered with much larger political powerhouses, such as Gingrich and Romney.

Clearly all that has been spoken of up to this point has been no less relevant to Rick Santorum then Jon Huntsman. Thus the key is to show how only Jon Huntsman is uniquely able to capitalize on this in 2016. The key to this will come down largely to changes in the conservative base. Although the rise of the Tea Party has been astonishing over the past few years, with some of the CNN crew on today’s show even wondering where the ‘Tea Party’ candidate is, ultimately the movement will be of little importance in 2016. This is largely due to trends, noted in the conservative leaning Washington Times that Republicans “are growing increasingly uneasy about the impact in 2012 of the [Tea Party] movement”][2]. This unease is understandable; the movement can be attributed with many Republican electoral losses, largely due to Tea Party candidates siphoning off normal Republican votes, as well as being known to sponsor largely unwinnable candidates such as the debacle in Delaware with Christine O’Donnell, which lead to the Republicans losing what seen as a sure run thing. As the GOP isn’t going anywhere, by 2016 you can expect that if the Republicans have lost this election a systematic delegitimizing of the Tea Party as a political entity will continue.

How can Huntsman gain from this? Far from more extreme views, clearly aimed at appeasing the politically motivated Tea Partiers that are coming more and more active among the Republican base, Jon Huntsman has stayed consistent with more traditional Republican policies, such as:

1) Introducing a flat tax

2) Cut spending

3) Bring home the troops[ii][3]

Similarly, his desires to create term limits in Congress, as well as reduce lobbyist influence and engage in developing new energy technologies[iii] [4]shows that he has policies that have the potential to attract many moderates, and truly threaten any Democratic hopeful. The other candidates in the 2012 Republican race will have a far more difficult time in having this crossover appeal, largely due to the fact that unlike their Utah counterpart, they have swerved far more to the right during this election, and thus will have a highly disadvantageous record to defend in 2016, when right wing politics will not be so severe during the primary season, and alienating during the presidential race.

Although it has been shown that Jon Huntsman would have clear advantages in a 2016 primary and presidential election over any potential Republican or Democratic contender, this is still irrelevant if there is not a strategic plan utilized to push him into office. Although by no means definitive, it would seem essential for Huntsman’s advisors to ensure that for the remainder of the primary season he retains his moderate record, though if the Democrats are to win this 2012 election, he should become increasingly vocal about the negatives of Democrat governance, in a hope that after 8 years the public will feel the same way, and thus give him a wealth of statements to draw on in order to appeal to future voters. Similarly, it is essential that name recognition is maintained, either through TV appearances, or by commenting on Democratic policies in the intervening years, thus allowing Huntsman to court potential donors as a very competent potential candidate, not just an upstart with little credence outside of Utah. Lastly Huntsman should retain an image of a Washington outsider, and play upon his solid economic management of Utah in any future campaign. Not only will this play well with his base, but will also provide reassurances to most moderates, similarly his time as US envoy to China should be played up to highlight his understanding of America’s greatest potential rival. This last point being clearly dependent upon Obama’s image in the public domain during the 2016 campaign, if poor then Huntsman should distance himself from any association with the preceding administration.


[1] Killough, Ashley. "Huntsman on Romney: "Name Recognition Only Means so Much""Politicalticker CNN. CNN, 26th Nov. 2011. Web. 3 Jan. 2012. .

[2] Hallow, Ralph Z. "Tea Party 2012 Effect Stirs GOP Trepidation."The Washington Times. 29 May 2011. Web. 3 Jan. 2012. .

[3] "Restoring Trust."Jon Huntsman for President. Jon Huntsman. Web. . All clearly summarized, but consistent with what he is saying.

[4] Ibid.


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