Jon Huntsman’s planned resignation as ambassador to China this spring seems to be a clear indication that former Utah governor is planning on running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
He’ll be far from alone.
There are currently 18 Republicans mentioned as 2012 candidates and the vast majority of that group is doing the sorts of things — visiting Iowa and New Hampshire, writing books etc. — that people who want to run for president do.
Assuming even two-thirds of that group runs, it will match the largest field in presidential history and create a decidedly chaotic primary season. But will it help or hinder Republican chances of winning the White House?
Let’s take a look back at history first. (The Fix should have been a history major in college.)
Since the 1968 election, the largest number of candidates to run for a party’s nomination is 12, which has happened four times: 1972 (Democrats), 1976 (Democrats), 2000 (Republicans) and 2008 (Republicans). (The last presidential election holds the distinction as the largest combined field with 20 total candidates seeking their respective parties’ nominations.)