Karl Rove, former advisor to George W. Bush, thinks Obama is likely to lose in 2012. I think just the opposite, that the President is likely to be re-elected. Here’s why:
Incumbent presidents seeking re-election usually win a second term. They don’t have to fight and fund-raise through primaries, and can focus exclusively on the general election campaign. They have experienced campaign staff that know how to wage a winning campaign for president. To a greater extent than their challengers, they get to shape the issues and events of the campaign.
I think the issues may end up favoring President Obama. He can’t and won’t be blamed for the 2008 financial crash which occurred on the watch of his predecessor. Slow economic recovery from a crash on the watch of his predecessor did not impede the re-election of President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 and again in 1940.
Most voters are not anxious to live without health insurance. In fact they want to pay for health insurance, but at a price they can afford. Most want government-provided Medicare when they become seniors, just the way their parents and grandparents had it. If necessary to meet rising costs, they are willing to see the Bush tax cuts repealed for the highest-income corporations and individual taxpayers.
The elimination of Osama Bin Laden at President Obama’s direction, and his previous use of the military against pirates off Somalia, establish the President’s credibility as commander-in-chief. The public mood now favors reducing the U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and President Obama will be credited with doing that.
Most importantly, the Republicans do not have a candidate who can both win the nomination of a political party dominated by social conservatives, and who can also be competitive against President Obama in the general election campaign. The apparent front-runner, Mitt Romney, has flip-flopped from the pro-choice, pro-gay rights positions he took as Massachusetts governor. He is a Mormon in a political party that prefers more orthodox Christianity. And he authored the health-care reform in Massachusetts which was the model for that adopted by President Obama, now denounced by another Republican candidate as “Obamney-care”.
Who else do they have? Pawlenty, Huntsman, Bachmann, Cain, Santorum? Anyone there who can look presidential against an opponent who by definition is presidential?
Much can and will happen over the 16 months between now and November, 2012. But when the polls close on November 6, we can compare who had the better political insight on June 23, 2011, me or “Bush’s brain”.