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Posted at 07:11 AM ET, 01/16/2012

What next for the Huntsman voter?


His hair’s looked better. (JASON REED - REUTERS)

“Huntsman’s dropping out!”

It’s like misheard bad news. “What? Who? Oh, Huntsman. I thought you said something else.”

I was going to do a highlight reel of Memorable Huntsman Moments, but I couldn’t remember any.

Even if I could have, they would have resembled a highlight reel of Favorite Waters or Most Exciting Taupes.

The only people really depressed about Jon Huntsman’s exit from the race are people who wouldn’t in their wildest dreams have voted for him — or any Republican candidate, for that matter.

It was a stillborn campaign hooked up to life support by the media. It did the campaign no good, and it cost everyone money and time.

Everything he did that made the press fawn — that cheeky tweet about believing in global warming, to name one — just ticked off the people whose votes he actually needed. His attitude toward the primaries was that of a lion tamer charming the stands and ignoring the lion.

And it showed. In South Carolina, Huntsman was polling behind Stephen Colbert.

Even in Utah, Huntsman’s home state, Mitt Romney was raising more funds than Huntsman was.

Anyone who’s sad that Jon Huntsman is out of the race would be equally sad about the news that, say, “Downton Abbey’s” second season was subpar, or that they might not release a special collectors’ edition of “The West Wing” with commentary from Aaron Sorkin. “Aw,” they’d say, and go back to leafing through menswear catalogs. “Nuts.”

Jon Huntsman’s out? Nobody cares about that, not even the people who’d said they were voting for Jon Huntsman. It’s like being told that the Num Lock key is leaving the race. You feel like you should be disappointed, but you can’t think of anything that it was adding.

Each of the Huntsman voters had a different reason for supporting him. One liked his hair. Three more were confused and thought this was the Democratic primary. Another one just thought he looked the “most Mad Men” of the Republican field. The last turned out to be Jon Huntsman in disguise.

With Huntsman gone, his support behind Romney, these voters can return to what they did before Huntsman came into their lives — shopping for antiques, watching “The Help,” “relating” to their kids, playing the violin badly, buying Word of the Day calendars, reading Annie Proulx stories, forwarding YouTube links to their nephews, trying to figure out how Windows Me works, watching 2006 Best Picture winner “Crash” again, buying pocket squares, reading “The Help,” raising funds for PBS, really intending to watch “Breaking Bad” but not getting around to it yet, taking Centrum Silver and saying, “Well, that’s a good point.”

Jon Huntsman’s campaign does go to show that if you put a lot of effort into making your hair look nice, people will take you more seriously than perhaps they ought. You can show up at Republican debates and they’ll even let you participate — although I’m not sure why you’d want to. It’s like crashing an annual awards dinner for advances in geriatric care, where Newt Gingrich is sure to be the keynote speaker.

Whenever someone leaves the race, questions mount: What will happen to the voters who supported him? Huntsman is endorsing Romney. Will the voter follow his lead?

The Huntsman voter was easy to track down. There was only one left, a nice, middle-aged woman who spent most of the year in Maine painting watercolors of sunsets.

“I miss him already,” she said. “He was really going to turn this country around, with his clear, common-sense 9-9-9 plan.”

“No,” I said. “Jon Huntsman.”

“What? Who? Oh, Huntsman. I thought you said something else.”

By  |  07:11 AM ET, 01/16/2012

Tags:  GOP 2012, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney

 
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