Handicapping The 2012 Presidential Election
The GOP Primary Candidates
The 2012 Presidential Election will be held in November to see who the president will be for the next 4 years. Incumbent president Barack Obama is already going to be representing the Democratic Party. However, who is going to be the conservative candidate? Here are some of the leading contenders:
The former governor of Massachusetts was the likely nominee until news hit that he actually placed 2nd in Iowa. Is being chased hard in South Carolina by Newt GIngrich and could actually lose that state to Gingrich. Romney is having trouble overcoming his image of being an elitist who is out of touch as of late. Still the likely nominee, but that is not a sure thing anymore.
His campaign was left for dead, but he was able to pull out a victory in Iowa. New Hampshire was a little bit of a disappointment, but he has vowed to continue to South Carolina. Should expect to finish in third place in South Carolina and after being declared the winner in Iowa, he should be a bigger force going forward.
The surprise of the nominating process thus far, Ron Paul has gotten more airtime and coverage than ever before. After a solid second place showing in New Hampshire, Paul is starting to become a force in the GOP race. His economic views fit with the GOP right now, but is still viewed as too out of touch for most conservatives.
Gingrich was leading the Iowa polls by double digits until a few days before Iowa. A fourth place finish in New Hampshire was not what he wanted, but he is widely expected to pull an upset and win the South Carolina primary. Doing so would alter the landscape of the GOP race going forward and make the form speaker a threat to win the whole thing.
Finished with about 17 percent of the vote, which was good for third place. Skipped the Iowa Caucus, and with a solid showing in the Granite State, was ready to go to South Carolina. Seen as a moderate, his ties to the Obama administration may haunt him. He was the ambassador to China before running for office. *Update: Hunstman dropped out of the race and is now endorsing Mitt Romney.
Issues To Keep An Eye On
The Economy (Duh)
The biggest issue that will be front and center in this next election is the economy. Americans want to go back to work and are sick of hearing about record unemployment numbers. While unemployment has remained around 9 percent for most of 2011, the latest numbers have shown to have crept back down to around 8.5 percent.
Whether this is because of the Christmas season inflating the need for workers, or so many Americans simply not looking for work, it will be a number that is spun in many different ways.
The latest economic reports show the economy to have posted the most job losses in 6 weeks, so that momentum may be waning just a bit post-holiday.
Americans Opinion Of Congress Itself
Americans have become fed up with the actions of Congress. Failure to get a debt deal done in time to avoid a downgrade of the US credit rating and squabbles over payroll tax cuts have underscored the polarization of Congress.
What Do Americans Think Of Obama
The economy is going to be a key issue, but how Americans view Obama is going to be critical to whether or not he gets re-elected.
According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, Obama was seen as being more trusted on taxes, and seen as taking the correct position on the payroll tax cuts. However, the GOP is going to want to paint Obama as a socialist who raises taxes and cannot create jobs.
President Obama is also seeing some of his highest approval ratings in a long time, with his approval ratings hovering around 50 percent. Keeping the economy moving forward and responding to GOP attempts to stall any of his proposed legislation will be two tests of his leadership moving toward the election.
In a Rasmussen poll, Obama and Romney were dead even at 42 percent each in a hypothetical match-up.
As the campaign moves along, the ever changing dynamics have made the race a tad more interesting. While Romney scores a slight edge over Obama, Ron Paul has also effected polling numbers. It is estimated that Paul could beat Obama in a hypothetical matchup, or could cost Romney the election running as a third party with Obama getting over 40 percent in a Romney, Paul, Obama election race.
Outside of Mitt Romney, the GOP does not have a candidate who has all the qualities to be an effective president. Even Romney will have to explain why he is against a health care model he created, and what he would do to create jobs and spur the economy.
Santorum and Gingrich are passionate about their ideas, but simply do not come across as men who make good leaders. Ron Paul seems to be an honest man who believes in his principles, but it is unlikely he would be the nominee.
Obama has a tough fight on his hands. It is his economy to fix, even if he wasn't handed the best situation. If he can show more improvement and a sustained march to recovery, he should win a second term fairly easily. If not, it could open a place for the GOP candidate, most likely Romney, to make a strong case to win the election. This race will be a lot closer than some may think, but Obama has a strong chance of being the leader of the free world come November.