Who Gains from Huntsman’s Exit?

Nate Silver says Mitt Romney:

Although Mr. Huntsman had relatively little support in the polls outside of New Hampshire, recent surveys suggested that the plurality of his supporters had Mr. Romney as their second choice.


Because Mr. Huntsman had relatively little support in South Carolina — between 1 and 6 percent of the vote in recent surveys — the net effect of this might be fairly negligible in the immediate term, with Mr. Romney gaining perhaps a percentage point in the state relative to more conservative candidates like Newt Gingrich.

Still, and particularly with Mr. Huntsman primed to endorse him, this removes another obstacle from Mr. Romney’s path to the nomination.

And while Huntsman’s support is small (hence the drop out), every vote helps.

Silver provides the following pie chart of second preferences for Huntsman’s voters:

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. MSS says:

    Romney gains when anyone gets out. Doesn’t he get a plurality of second choices from almost any of the other candidates’ supporters?

    Of course, as noted, when you barely register in the polls at all, getting out hardly makes a ripple.

  2. @MSS: No doubt, in the long run, you are correct. In the short term I think that if, say, Gingrich quit tomorrow, that Santorum would likely gain more, in relative terms, than would Mitt.

    That is just a guess, I will grant.

  3. Tillman says:

    A whole 15% of Huntsman’s voters would go for Gingrich or Santorum as their second choice? Amazing. What Huntsman needs to do before 2016 is figure out how he appealed to those sorts.

  4. Franklin says:

    @Tillman: Amazing indeed. I can sort of picture what people are thinking with their first two choices. Someone with Huntsman and then Romney is probably looking for some reasonable moderate. Someone with Huntsman and then Paul is probably looking for honesty and/or fiscal conservatism. I don’t know much about Roemer, but the ones with Gingrich and Santorum as a second choice make no sense to me.