Obama is struggling in the polls, and week after week we read new reports that he is falling to new lows, or that he is losing his parts of his base. Granted anything can happen in the next 416 days until election day, Obama will need to show drastic improvements in the economy and thus the national mood if he is to stand a chance at reelection.
Unless of course the Republicans hand him the gift of an unelectable candidate. Read, Michelle Bachman. If the Republicans nominate a candidate who looks presidential, however, it will become a referendum on President Obama’s performance. Voters will see a slothful economy with anemic growth, and look to a governor with a proven record of performance instead of an unproven hope-and-change-like mantra proclaimed in a Roman forum. We do not know yet who the Republicans will choose, but Obama will most likely be opposed by an electable Republican nominee. Jeff Zeleny and Megan Thee-Brenan write in this morning’s New York Times:
Republicans appear more energized than Democrats at the outset of the 2012 presidential campaign, but have not coalesced around a candidate. Even as the party’s nominating contest seems to be narrowing to a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a majority of their respective supporters say they have reservations about their candidate. Half of Republicans who plan to vote in a primary say they would like more choices.
A snapshot of the Republican Party, four months before the first primary ballots are cast, shows that voters are evenly divided between preferring a presidential nominee who can defeat Mr. Obama or one who aligns with them on most issues. A majority of voters who support the Tea Party movement place a higher priority on winning back the White House.
Even the more ideological Tea Party wing places a priority on defeating Obama as opposed to pure ideology. If their flexibility leads to a more moderate candidate, Democrats will face a troubling irony. They’ve spent months claiming the Tea Party was both out of the mainstream and ideological – neither is true – but may face a more moderate Republican opponent of the Tea Party’s choosing.
Republicans will coalesce around a candidate in due time, and once that begins the two campaigns will begin to frame the election.
Democrats: it could have been worse.
Republicans: our guy was a governor, not a community organizer.