Is Obama In The Driver’s Seat For 2012
Now that Rick Santorum has thrown in the towel and dropped out of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, many pundits are predicting that Obama will have an easy time winning re-election against Mitt Romney. However, despite the narrowing field in the Republican race, it is certainly much too soon to be predicting the outcome of the 2012 Presidential elections. For all the experts and prognosticators know, we may still end up with a brokered convention and a surprise Republican nominee. It is just premature to be calling Obama in the win column.
In a recent article in New York Magazine entitled “The Obama-Romney Confidence Gap”, the author made mention of Team Obama’s apparent “cockiness” over the fact that Obama is leading Romney in many polls and appears to be in the drivers seat. Granted that New York Magazine is well known for supporting Liberal candidates and causes but it is hard to deny that Obama and his associates seem to feel that they have Romney right where they want him. That would be, in second place and losing handily to Obama in 2012.
In some respects, this could all turn out to be wishful thinking on Obama’s part. It is impossible to overlook the elephant in the room which is the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare. The court is expected to rule on Obamcare in July and if they rule that all or part of the ACA is unconstitutional, it will be a potential game changer. It is hard to imagine Romney or any Republican nominee not constantly battering Obama by accusing him of trying to foist an unconstitutional law on the American people. If the law is found to be unconstitutional, Republicans will shout to the mountain tops that the President willfully disregarded the wishes of of the citizens of the United States by forcing Obamacare through the Senate using a questionable parliamentary maneuver called Reconciliation. They will remind Americans that recent CNN polls show 49% to 54% of Americans are opposed to Obamacare and only 37% in support. They will proclaim that polls also show that 2/3 of the American people want the Supreme Court to overturn the Mandatory Payer Provision of the law.
Of course, no matter if the law is overruled or held to be constitutional, there are many other factors at work in this election. It would be unwise of Obama and his supporters to think that just because the Republicans acted like a high school debating team during much of their primary season, the foolishness will continue. Romney has a ton of money behind him and the backing of many Republican bigwigs. He will be quite comfortable going on the attack during the months to come and will not hold back like he did during the campaign for the Republican nomination. There will be no worries about offending fellow Republicans if Obama and Romney meet to debate the issues. The sparks will fly and how it will turn out is anyone’s guess.
Another major variable is the shaky American economy. A great deal can happen between now and November. If the economy continues to slide and unemployment continues to increase, Obama will be quite vulnerable. If gasoline prices continue to rise while more Americans lose their jobs and their homes, Obama will be hard pressed to evade Republican talking points. Families about to lose everything want to hear more from Mr.Obama than clever attacks putting all responsibility for our failing economy on the Republicans. The voters have long since tired of Obama blaming Bush. If Obama remains short on solutions and continues the blame game, he will only succeed in alienating voters. Most of all, voters want to know how the United States will continue to function with a 16 trillion dollar deficit and no plan to end the non-stop spending. Obama can not talk his way out of the fact that America lost its Triple A credit rating on his watch.
Besides the economy, the President has many other issues that can and will be used to try to defeat him. There is Fast and Furious and Holder’s evasive testimony before Congress. Conservative voters feel Fast and Furious was nothing less than a criminal attack on Mexico’s sovereignty that was designed by Obama insiders to subvert the 2nd Amendment. The vast majority of Americans do not take kindly to Presidents who advocate for any sort of gun control. It is no co-incidence that gun sales have sky rocketed since Obama was elected. A growing number of voters have become convinced that Obama intends to disregard the 2nd Amendment and seize their firearms. The voters fears and doubts about gun control, Fast and Furious and the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry will be powerful ammunition in the Republican campaign to unseat Obama.
America still has thousands of troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting under restrictive Rules of Engagement in politically un-winnable wars. Most Americans want the all troops home and they want them home now. Prolonging or extending the wars could become a serious issue for Obama, especially if the terrorist attacks on our troops in Afghanistan continue. The American people have tired of their government’s foreign adventures and anyone who underestimates the importance of this issue to voters is making a grave error. Much may depend on whom the voters hold responsible, especially if things get even worse for our beleaguered troops. There is strong support for our troops in America, despite the negative attitude towards the wars. If more American lives are lost or a major tragedy occurs for our troops, Obama may pay a heavy price at the voting booth.
Laying aside all of the political issues, there is one more factor that is worth considering about the 2012 elections and that is the tone and demeanor of both candidates and their campaigns. If Americans of all political persuasions can agree on anything, it is that they are sick and tired of politics as usual in America. If either candidate conducts an openly hostile, attack based campaign and ignores the issues, they run the risk of alienating the voters. Many political pundits have predicted that Obama will run just such a campaign and he does so at his own peril. The voters want to know how the country will get back on track. They are sick and tired of the political name calling and dirty politics.
In reality, it is a mistake to listen to so called experts, read a few early polls and assume that Obama can take his re-election for granted. The world is a very volatile place at the moment and events can easily spin out of control in the blink of an eye. Once the actual Republican candidate is chosen and the 2012 Presidential election campaign gets underway, one badly handled crisis could change everything. One misspoken soundbite could alienate thousands upon thousands of voters.
If there has every been a time in American history when the American voting public may be impossible to read, this is it. There are untold numbers of voters who are simply fed up with the state of affairs in this country. Every day during the next seven months will bring new problems and new issues that may have unimagined consequences for either candidate.
Of course, if Ron Paul decides to mount a third party candidacy, Romney may just as well stay home and save the Republican party a billion dollars in campaign expenditures. If Ron Paul pulls a Ralph Nader, it will be over before it even starts and Obama can coast across the finish line to an easy victory. In any event, the 2012 Presidential election promises to be a unique and exciting affair. The next seven months may very well determine the future of America for decades to come.
Conflict, Manipulation And Fear – Politics In The Modern World is a Twice Weekly Column by Wolff Bachner about Government, Leadership and the Pursuit of Power.