Obama is Vulnerable in 2012
By: Craig Chamberlain
The conventional wisdom concerning next years Presidential election is that President Obama has nothing to worry about. The power of incumbency and the lack of a prominent challenger will assure that he is reelected next November. Some of that is true. If I were President Obama the thought of the current GOP field wouldn’t be keeping me awake at night. But there are a couple of things that need to be remembered. First of all, very few Presidential challengers are well known before they get the nomination. And, secondly, there are other things that can bring down a sitting President besides a well known challenger.
Remember that no one really knew who Bill Clinton was until he secured the Democratic nomination in 1992. No one had heard of Jimmy Carter until he became the challenger to President Ford in 1976, and President Obama himself did not have high name recognition until he decided to throw his hat into the ring in 2008. So the idea that the current GOP contenders aren’t well known shouldn’t worry Republicans at all. There is still 18 months until the election. That’s 18 months for the field of candidates to be pruned back, for real front runners to emerge, and for the eventual nominee to become known to the public. It’s true that, right now. no one really knows who Tim Pawlenty is. That will change if he becomes the nominee to challenge President Obama.
Then President Obama has to worry about rebuilding the coalition that carried him to office in 2008. Minorities, young voters, and independents were his constituents. And using those voters he was able to flip nine states that President Bush had won in 2004. Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado all went to Obama last time. If he loses 7 of those states he won’t be President anymore. He won North Carolina, Florida and Indiana by razor thin margins. It’s unlikely that he will win Ohio again, and his strength in Virginia is in question. Remember that voters repudiated his agenda in every one of these states in 2009 and 2010. The minority vote will remain with him, and by a huge margin. Black turnout will be very high to reelect the first African American President. It’s the other two factions in his coalition that he has to worry about. Will young voters have the same enthusiasm, and turnout, as they did in 2008? Hope and change isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be. Independent voters jumped ship on the President before the inaugural celebrations were over. Many of them voted for Obama because it was exciting to vote for the first minority President. Well, here’s the truth: President Obama isn’t exciting anymore. Couple that with the fact that independents are very concerned about the debt, and voted Republican by a large margin in 2010, and it’s not very likely that the President will be able to cobble together his coalition once more.
His biggest problem is the economy. By large margins the American people believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and that the economy is weak. They are right on both counts. The American people were warned, when President Obama first came into office, that without massive amounts of stimulus spending the unemployment rate could go as high as 8%. The official employment rate is 9%, and in reality it’s a good bit higher than that. Since the labor department doesn’t count discouraged workers a considerable amount of the unemployed is not counted. When all of the unemployed, and underemployed are counted, the real rate is probably closer to 16%.
In order for the American economy to get back on its feet it needs to add about 350,000 jobs per month. Last month the economy added just under 150,000 jobs, and last quarter the economy grew by only 1.8%. If President Bush had those kind of economic numbers there would have been people calling for his assassination. Oh, wait… there were people calling for his death. There are economic statistics that can be spun into good news. The unemployment rate, the price of gas, the price of food, and the value of your home aren’t among them. If the potential list of GOP challengers isn’t bothering President Obama then the economic data should be keeping him awake at nights. If the economic situation remains unchanges it won’t matter too much who the GOP nominee is. In current polls President Obama is losing to generic GOP candidates.
Of course he won’t be running against some nameless generic, but a real person with real ideas, and those ideas will matter. President Obama is vulnerable, with his coalition in doubt, and the pressing economic issues(no one is going to be thinking about the death of Usama Bin Laden in 2012) it’s not out of the question that he could be a one term President, and for the sake of the United States let’s hope he is.
America can’t take another four years.