How Huntsman Could Actually Win
Thanks to Gingrich, he has a shot: Nate Silver
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2011 12:02 PM CST
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman reacts to the audience prior to participating in a one-on-one debate with Newt Gingrich in Manchester, NH, Monday.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

(Newser) – Back in June, Nate Silver didn't think Jon Huntsman had much of a shot at the Republican nomination—but a lot has changed since then. Thanks to Newt Gingrich, Silver can now see a "path to victory" for Huntsman, which he lays out in the New York Times. Huntsman's problems, Silver explains, were both strategic (he's too moderate for much of the party) and tactical (Mitt Romney provided too large of a challenge). What Huntsman needed was for another candidate to weaken Romney, causing him to be vulnerable in New Hampshire—but this third candidate must also be vulnerable, "and not have a lock on the nomination."

Enter Gingrich, who may just be "the perfect foil." He's "exactly the sort of candidate who could substantially harm Mr. Romney’s campaign without locking up the nomination for himself—and the odds of this will increase the more that Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Romney go after one another." Silver lays out a set of Iowa results that have Gingrich winning with 25% and Romney finishing fifth—results that are quite plausible, based as they are on the current polling averages in the state—and concludes that such results would damage Romney quite a bit, while still keeping Gingrich's momentum in check. It won't be easy, but Huntsman "is dangerous enough to significantly complicate Mr. Romney’s life." Click for Silver's full analysis or check out another take on why Huntsman should be the nominee.