Thursday, April 07, 2011

Why Obama will win in 2012

(Originally cross-posted at Daily Kos, but I took it down. Lacking as I did an encyclopedic knowledge of unwritten comment etiquette, two commenters threatened to report my account. Which is funny, considering one of them had posted that I was "delusional" with a pic of rose-colored glasses. But yeah, I'm the troll. So, lesson learned. I cannot defend myself on Kos, so I will not write there either.)

So President Obama has announced that he will run for re-election in 2012. Phew. The suspense was killing me.

But it makes sense that Obama felt the need to toss his hat in the ring. Word is, a lot of people don’t even think he should bother. And it isn’t just the tea party types incredibly embittered by Obama’s presidency in the first place; a lot of liberal Democrats have declared hope dead and joined the chorus.

My message to both groups is this: Get it out of your system now.

Barack Obama is going to win re-election in 2012. Easily. Maybe even handily.

Why? Several reasons.

1) The only year that matters in 2012 is 2012.

Every incumbent president faces the question of re-election, and it almost always looks dire early on. Just ask Bill Clinton in 1995, after the Republican takeover compelled Newt Gingrich to call him “irrelevant.” Or Ronald Reagan in 1982, during the recession and double-digit unemployment. Both served two terms, but neither would have been elected every year they held office. George W. Bush probably wouldn’t have even been elected through most of 2004, but he peaked at the right time and beat John Kerry. So declaring Obama’s fortunes over at this point is premature.

(On the other hand, look at George H.W. Bush in 1991. His re-election seemed all but assured after the Gulf War. Much can change in a year’s time.)

Does does suggest that we, as an electorate, have short memories? That’s part of it. What matters just as much, however, is this:

2) Political problems aren’t the same as election problems.

Take a moment and think of those you care about — parents, siblings, relatives, children or friends. Think about the single most annoying thing any of them do, such as snore loudly, drive too fast or leave nail clippings on the table. Now imagine that one of them is in the running for their dream job, and the employer is asking you for a reference. Would you use that particular quirk against them? Of course you wouldn’t. What matters is essentially the yes-or-no question of qualification at hand.

Presidential elections are the same way. It’s one thing to criticize the president over specific issues and actions. But the overarching question is, does this person have what it takes to perform as president, above and beyond anyone else likely to gain the office?

As much as some of us see Election Day as a nuanced referendum on the issues, it isn’t. For better or for worse, it’s a yes-or-no question. It’s not an ideal situation, particularly for political purists, but it’s one that looks to play to Obama’s advantage next year. After all,

3) The Republicans have yet to field a front-runner, and may not be able to do so.

Given this divided political climate, there’s no chance that any Republican is going to appeal to Democrats in 2012. Indeed, the GOP will be hard-pressed to field a candidate that will satisfy its own deep party schism.

That might seem like a strange observation, given the GOP’s recent gains and ongoing animosity against Obama from all sides — but again, mid-year fervor is not necessarily going to translate into electoral votes. Ideological extremes don’t sell nearly as well in such a sweeping election as they do in smaller races.

It’s fine and dandy to fantasize about a Sarah Palin presidency in an off-year, but presidential cycles rarely lead to the kind of candidates who leave supporters swooning. Obama was the exception that proved the rule. John McCain straight-up proved the rule. Come primary time, the GOP will have to match the fervor of the tea party with the numbers brought only by wider moderate support. Which means they’ll likely end up with a Tim Pawlenty type, someone not too exciting but theoretically electable.

Not that charisma matters entirely, because...

4) Ultimately, only votes count.

In presidential terms, only one thing matters: the vote tally. I can write and endorse with fervor, but if I don’t vote, I don’t count. Conversely, don’t find myself interested in any candidate and say nothing for two years, my vote still counts. I may have been less enthralled by John Kerry than Barack Obama, but my votes for them carried equal weight.

This is why the tea party hasn’t completely taken over American politics, despite being the most motivated bloc of voters since Obama’s mobilization in 2008. Obama benefited from a stoked and massive turnout, and his electoral fortunes will hinge upon their return to the ballot box in 2012 — more so than his competition, even. As with every presidential election, you might hear a lot of complaints about “the lesser of two evils” and how someone will hold their nose to vote. Fine. Hold your nose. The tally won’t know the difference, as long as you show up. And I’m guessing that despite many boasts to the contrary, there won’t be some huge defection in the clutch.

As for third parties on either side of the spectrum, I’d be surprised if any of them reach the clout of Ralph Nader ... in 2004.

Like many of you, I would like to see an electoral process that consistently delivers quality candidates and is less driven by corporate dollars and suspect vote-counting practices. And when that once-in-a-lifetime candidate wins, I want him to be a once-in-a-lifetime president. But I also acknowledge the reality of our current system, and it gives Obama the institutional advantage in 2012.

Obama doesn’t always win the day. But he will win on the day that counts the most.


Jester said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ted will berrie said...

He's sick barrack Insane Obama. He's not for this country , but only to ruin it with facism ways. He's has been cultivated from a young age to be put in this position by many many wealthy people in this and out of this country.

All this blogging and free speech and expression is withered and will be gone. We don't need to pay 4,5, or even 8 dollars a gallon and say" well if you live in Europe you'd be paying 14. Duh !!! Hello !!!! Were not living there we live here and if memory serves me right I believe that is why this country was formed many eats ago from the fed up people and corruption, but only now we are being taxed without representation and government spending of both parties is too much.
Ok , let's say you go to work and make 600 a week and you have no children or spouse banged up old car , breadbox of an apt, but you spend 725 again , duh!! Hello!!! It won't work and if I call my credit card company and ask them to raise my limit they'll laugh cause my debt to income ratio don't match.

Ian McGibboney said...

I'm half-hoping that the recent spate of stupid comments I've been getting here is all the work of the same life-free individual.

Ted said...

You must be a very educated college a hole , get a life Obama is wrong

Ian McGibboney said...

At least I can spell Barack Obama's name and construct coherent sentences. Makes the argument all that more compelling.

Ted said...

If I misspelled I'm human but not a liberal duche bag like your self . What's your number I'll call you

Ian McGibboney said...

My number? 911.

Anonymous said...


Call me you dem

Ian McGibboney said...

Surely you have something better to do. I do. On the bright side, maybe one of my other readers will take you up on your offer to call you at 845-634-2400. That's 845-634-2400! Operators are standing by. Call now!

Anonymous said...

What a real wanckeri could break your jaw with one shot

Anonymous said...

Go talk about the green washing bull shite all your liberal jerk offs are trying to push down the throats of the feeble minded

Ian McGibboney said...

If you want feeble-minded, look in the mirror. All of this semi-coherent garbage makes you look dumb, not me. If you think Obama's going to lose in 2012, I'd love to read why you think so. Saying you can break my jaw doesn't count. Oh, you can threaten somebody! Gee! I guess we can look forward to President Pawlenty now! Glad we got that straightened out.

Finally, it's bad form to harass a total stranger on the Internet after you've posted your phone number. I wonder what Amereq thinks of you using its business line to troll like this.

Anonymous said...

Just like a liberal to run scared , no need to explain. Tell me what has the muslim brother done for you since he's been in power

brandon said...

Good stuff, who really cares? Unless he is able to pass a law that extends his legacy he is out by 2016. We then, never have to have this argument again. Thank god.

For a man that has really done nothing he sure has created a ton of turmoil. Most of it because he's black and we live in a racist society.

The sad part is he ran on "Change" he has really changed nothing.

Really, what President can really do anything?

Most Democrats and Republicans can't even explain to me why they follow their party.

For my sake, my parents were Republicans and told me Democrats are usually poor. All I ever knew was I didnt want to be poor??? Thus, I was a Republican. When I went back to school at 28 I almost became a Democrat. School will so that to you!!!!!

Who's to blame?

Voice of Hope said...

Love your post Ian. I am not as politically aware as you are, but I am learning. The one thing that amazes me is the ignorance to the fact of what has been done. I was in the doctor's office with my 23 year old son. When my insurance was not accepted because of his age, I called the insurance company and reminded them of the recent changes in healthcare policy, and he was added back immediately. There were some good Republican looking people there who no doubt had not voted for Obama, but they began to immediately question me about how to get their loved ones back on their insurance. It is the sad testimony of certain people who would rather suffer themselves than to see someone of a different ethnicity succeed. After all, when everything is taken away, had Obama been white, we would not be having this conversation today. There are a lot of little minded, sad and petty people out there who couldn't see change if it walked up and smacked them in the face. Once again Ian, thank you for such an intelligent, informing, and educational post.

David's Blog said...

One of the most intelligent posts I've read on the subject in a while. Even if you don't agree with the author (I do), you can at least understand his point of view. The Republicans always seem to be too much in a hurry to condemn everything they don't agree with. Shooting from the hip is not an indication of maturity.
Thank you Ian for a well thought out piece.

Danielle said...

I believe Obama will be re-elected in 2012. There are so many working class Americans who are WAY TOO INTELIIGENT to let the Republican party win! It amazes me how people vote REPUBLICAN when clearly they are raping us as a people. They looked us in the eye, LIED, stuck their hand in our pocket and pulled out 700 BILLION dollars in WORKING TAX PAYER MONEY! Then you get these poor and middle class republicans...which absolutely KILLS me. They are not representing your voice....and you are getting raped too! And what makes it so bad is that they have lied to you so actually believe it's good for you! lol

Vitali Vidal said...


Cull501 said...

1. "He's not for this country , but only to ruin it with facism ways."

How can someone be a Fascist and a Marxist?

2. "You must be a very educated college a hole , get a life Obama is wrong"

Since when is being educated considered a negative attribute?

3. "What a real wanckeri could break your jaw with one shot"

When the only way that you offer to refute someones argument is with violence, then there is clearly an issue with your side.

4. @TED Baggers should stop talking while the grownups speak politics.

Anonymous said...

Danielle, you are clearly an idiot. Your beloved is no different then the dbag before.