Granite State Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents need to know more about former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman before they form an opinion about his service in the Obama administration as U.S. Ambassador to China, according to a survey conducted by Magellan Strategies for NH Journal.
The survey, conducted between May 25th and May 26th, shows that 46 percent of respondents are unsure or have yet to form an opinion about whether Huntsman’s ties to Obama will hurt or help his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Meanwhile, 29 percent say it will help him and 25 percent say it will hurt him.
Huntsman is not yet a candidate for the GOP nomination, but recent signs point to a likely run.
Not surprisingly, partisan Republicans are more likely to say the ambassadorship will hurt Huntsman (30%) than Independents (21%). This could hurt Huntsman’s outreach to conservatives, but could help his strategy of appealing to Independents who vote in the Republican primary.
Overall, however, the most frequent response given by those surveyed was that they have no opinion. This provides Huntsman a good opening to define himself in the eyes of the voters.
One red flag for the nascent Huntsman campaign is that 38 percent of Republican primary voters in Hillsborough County – the state’s most voter-rich county – believe Huntsman’s service to Obama is harmful.
With his recent announcement that he will not participate in New Hampshire’s first televised debate, could Jon Huntsman already have seen numbers like this and be rethinking his candidacy? George W. Bush was the last candidate to skip a debate in 1999 and that was the beginning of the end for him in New Hampshire.