The campaign season has started and everyone is trying to predict who is going to be the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I have been asked my opinion about that at least a dozen times just this week. Well, I don’t know –but I may be able to tell you how to figure it out for yourselves. So let me turn on my Crystal Ball and see how I think this mess will sort out.
First let’s start with Obama. From a strictly historical perspective I would normally say he does not have a chance in hell with unemployment so high and the economy in the tank. No incumbent with anywhere near those problems has ever been reelected. This, however, is a very unusual year and the historical perspective may not apply. Normally, Barack Obama would face challenges for the nomination from within his own party because of the current conditions in Washington. That is not going to happen this time. Obama already has over $90 million in his war-chest and he commands to much hard core support within the Democratic Party. The handful of extreme left wingers who are upset with him for being too wishy-washy and the few moderates upset with him for being too far left are just too few in number to have an impact –and in the end they would rather see him in the White House then a Republican anyway.
The Republicans are going to nominate a far right winger. The reason for that is simple. The Tea Party, whose views are seen as on the far right, has too much influence in the Republican Party for a more moderate candidate to overcome. So the whole thing will come down to a horse race between an extreme conservative and President Obama.
Now let’s look at how that will play out. The Democrats will support the President –period. That represents about 35% of the voters in the general election. The Republicans will support whoever opposes the President –period. That represents about 40% of the voters in the general election.
That means that the key will become (as it always does) the 25% of voters who are primarily independent. That group overwhelmingly went to Obama in 2008 and helped him win handily. Times have changed and this group is very, very angry with both parties and all politicians. Normally they would never vote for any incumbent. The problem is that this group traditionally fears the far right more than the far left. In the past both of the Bushes and Ronald Reagan were seen as right wing, but moderate enough to still attract the majority of these independents. An extreme right winger will not be able draw as much support from this group –even under the current conditions in the country.
The question will then be how this 25% splits. To win the general election the Democrats will need 16 of that 25%. The Republicans will only need 11 of the 25%. Can the Republicans get that and beat Obama? In my opinion, no, not if they put up an extreme conservative like Bachmann with her obstructionist, ‘my way or the highway’ attitudes or Perry with his proclivity for holding prayer meeting rallies. Extreme right wingers have always scared off the independents and even the economic conditions in the nation right now will not change that.
If, on the other hand, the Republicans manage to choose someone seen as slightly more moderate (especially on the social issues), that person will attract the vast majority of the independents and will likely beat Obama handily.
So, here is my final prediction for the 2012 election. The person I think will be the next President of the United States is…… oh, damn. My Crystal Ball just lost power and went dark. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see how this develops – but never fear, we’ll know when we see who the Republicans nominate to challenge el Presidente.
Live Long and Prosper.....