Can Jon Huntsman Shake His Mormon Label?

The recent Jon Huntsman presidential boomlet has produced plenty of theories about what the former Utah governor is thinking. Here's mine. Most people think someone with Huntsman's moderate positions couldn't capture the Republican nomination, since all the energy in the party right now is on the far right wing. Amid all the theorizing, though, there hasn't been a lot written about Huntsman that has any depth. One of the best pieces is this 2009 New Republic profile by Zvika Krieger. Among other things, it offers an interesting clue to why Huntsman might have moved left when his party was moving to the right:

Huntsman seems to have learned another lesson from the Romney campaign: A Mormon, no matter how conservative, cannot win amongst the right wing of the party--particularly evangelicals. Romney thought he could win their favor by becoming a drum-beating social conservative, underestimating the deep-rooted antipathy many evangelicals have toward Mormons. A recent Pew poll found that 39 percent of evangelicals hold negative views of Mormons--a sentiment Mike Huckabee used against Romney. Though RNC Chair Michael Steele was lambasted last week for saying "the base ... rejected Mitt because it had issues with Mormonism," he wasn't that far off: According to a study by John C. Green and Mark Silk, the size of the evangelical community was one of the best predictors of Romney's success or failure in each state; without the evangelical vote, they argue, Romney probably would have won in four of the five southern states he lost. In light of Romney's experience, the more likely base for Huntsman would have been the moderate wing of the party, which is less concerned with religion in general (and the LDS church specifically).
Presented by

Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In