As more Republican Presidential candidates either enter or drop out of the 2012 race people are beginning to speculate over who will win the nomination. Although it is almost 18 months until the election I am increasingly thinking that the nomination is irrelevant as President Obama is almost certain to win re-election.
The most basic reason for this conclusion is the simple fact that most Presidents win re-election. If you look over the last 100 years or so, there are only a few examples of Presidents losing.
In 1912 President Taft lost, but only because the GOP vote was split between Taft and TR.
In 1928 President Hoover lost, but only because of a massive depression that was seen as his fault.
In 1976 President Ford lost, largely due to the party split with Reagan and the aftermath of Watergate.
In 1980 President Carter lost, thanks to party divisions with Kennedy, the 3rd party candidacy of John Anderson, the bad economy AND the Iran hostage crisis.
In 1992 President Bush lost thanks to party divisions with the right, the Perot candidacy and the bad economy.
Looking to 2012 it does not seem likely any of these things will apply. There is some discontent with Obama on the left but nobody major seems to be emerging for a primary challenge and the base generally seems satisfied.
Nor does a 3rd party campaign seem likely.
The economy is bad, but most people seem to see that as being beyond party, and to the degree they blame a party it is at most evenly split between the two sides, if not tilted to the GOP.
Similarly there does not seem to be any major foreign policy issue, especially after the killing of Bin Laden.
Obama will also have a massive treasury to spend. One of the advantages that Richard Nixon had was that he as a long time anti Communist could go to China without being condemned. Similarly President Obama seems to have the ability to raise billions in campaign funds while avoiding the ‘buying the election’ allegations.
This of course does not even go in to the fact that the GOP is currently without a major candidate who seems to have the ability to match up with Obama on a debate and communications level. Further many of the contenders have problems with the GOP base, and in particular the more insane portion of it.
Romney is a decent enough man but he has issues with his (gasp) moderate views on things like gay rights (also known as human decency), health care, etc.
Pawlenty has a lot of good positions and is probably the candidate I could see myself supporting, but it does not seem he has the experience and support to win the nomination. He’d probably be Obama’s toughest opponent.
Paul will have a lot of base support but his positions on many issues are way too far out of the mainstream to win a general election
Gingrich is… well Gingrich. Even he knows his campaign is a joke.
Most of the rest of the candidates are simply too new to win the nomination, and some are just jokes (read Jimmy McMillan).
In short the GOP is much like the Democrats were in 1984 or 1988, they just don’t have anyone with the right combination of talent, moderate views, name recognition and skill to beat Obama.
So when you combine history (Presidents usually win) with the current reality (Obama will have massive funds and incumbency) plus the lack of a major GOP candidate then there just does not seem to be a path to victory.
In short, it’s time to plan for 2016.
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