In 2008, Barack Obama caught lightning in a bottle that absolutely cannot be duplicated. The economy was floundering under George Bush and Obama’s chief opponent John McCain just so happened to vote similarly to Bush on a plethora of policies. In addition, young voters made an uncharacteristically significant presence at the polls on November 4, 2008. Obama carried nearly the entire black and Hispanic vote, and his campaign appeared to be different than the Washington establishment. Fast forward three years and the landscape is quite different. The economy is even worse than in 2008, but this time Bush cannot be help culpable. Young voters have no reason to come out in record numbers, and even if they do, there is no longer cache associated with the incumbent president. Obama is still favored by roughly 85% of blacks, but this is the first time his black approval rate is less than 90%. Furthermore, his approval by Hispanics has plummeted into the 50th percentile. All that being said, Obama still has a chance to repeat because the Republican Party can’t get its house in order. The GOP is mess right now, and I’d like to happily sort it out for everyone.
Mess #1: The Tea Party
As it currently stands, a candidate cannot secure GOP support unless they have the backing of the Tea Party. The Tea Party is so strong because they represent a large number of wealthy Americans. It is impossible to win a political party nomination, let alone a presidential nomination without significant funding, and for the GOP that funding currently comes from Tea. The problem with this is that every GOP candidate has to follow a certain script for fear of upsetting the applecart. This is evident during every debate and interview, as every aspirant’s talking points sound nearly identical. It’s refreshing (please sense the sarcasm) that literally every one of them says Obama has to lose, they will repeal Obamacare the first day they are elected, and government spending does not fix the economy. The moment someone tries to ad lib, they aren’t considered “conservative enough.” A perfect example of this is when Rick Perry said he wants to give the children of illegal aliens in-state college tuition prices. Yes these people are not citizens, but how is it bad to let these children have an affordable college education? More than likely they come from impoverished families, so if they beat the odds to even get accepted to college they should be applauded. He never said anything about free or reduced education. At any rate he got slammed for this opinion … it makes perfect sense, but it doesn’t fit with Tea Party ideals. This faction of the GOP may be strong, but they are producing mindless candidates who can’t or won’t compromise or think outside the box. Moreover, many view members of this group as unrelenting, close-minded, and racist. None of those qualities is good for widespread appeal.
Mess#2: The Candidates
The major reason Obama has a chance at winning a second term is because of the pupu platter of candidates that are vying to represent the Republican Party. His approval rating is way down, the economy sucks, and millions think he’s in over his head, but thanks to the Tea Party forcing their hopefuls to be mindless drones, and because of their own ineptitude none of the candidates can capitalize. The saddest fact concerning the competitors is that the front runners are two people who aren’t even in the race: Chris Christie and Sarah Palin. In terms of the actual candidates none is very impressive:
Mitt Romney- More than likely he’s the new front runner, but only because he’s just smooth enough not to say anything stupid. He’s essentially like the tortoise from the children’s story about the tortoise and the hare. Romney sticks to his boring talking points, never attracts controversy, and is just savvy enough to beat out a crappy field. Presumably he garnered these slightly above average skills running for president in 2008.
Rick Perry- He was supposed to be the savior for the GOP, but then he opened his mouth. Perry has been absolutely awful in the debates, has been caught fabricating the truth on a few occasions, and he’s been quoted as saying Social Security “is a Ponzi scheme” (He’s not actually all that wrong about this though. Consider that millions of people in their 20s and 30s will have huge chunks taken out of their paychecks for the next 30 or so years to fund the retirement of those retiring during the years they work. Despite putting in all this money, there will be nothing left for them. This actually sounds like the very definition of a Ponzi scheme). At any rate, Perry can still generate tons of financial support, so he shouldn’t be overlooked.
Ron Paul- People really seem to like that he actually answers the questions posed to him during the debates, and appears to have a plan for America’s woes. Despite being a solid #3 in the polls the major problems are that he is 76 years old, he’s not very exciting, and he doesn’t always agree with the Tea Party.
Michele Bachmann- Let’s be honest, she has absolutely no shot at winning the GOP nomination.
Henry Cain- His victory at the Florida debate says less about him than it does the sorry state of the competition. America has come a long way in regards to race relations, but there is entirely no way two black men will be vying for the presidential office in 2012.
Gingrich, Santorum, Huntsman, Johnson- Gag me.
In all reality, do any of these jokers really scare the Democrats?
Mess #3: The Public
Perception is reality, and the Democrats are really making it seem like the GOP led House is the reason policies aren’t being passed to help the economy. This is a huge obstacle that the GOP hasn’t had to tackle yet since they’re currently only focused on their party members during the rallies. In addition, the Tea Party message isn’t very generalizable to the public at large. Most people are all for fixing the national debt and reducing government spending, but they’d much rather just have a job. Once again, many Tea Party members are well off financially, so their concerns aren’t felt by most Americans … although their concerns are felt by many voting Americans. As the GOP candidates tout increasingly conservative mantras to win party nomination they have to make sure they don’t completely alienate the large number of moderates that actually still exist. Moreover, Obama’s economic plan calls for a tax hike on the rich, which is vehemently opposed by the GOP. In some ways he may be starting a class war, but he may have volume on his side, as obviously the majority of US citizens will not meet the criteria for a tax increase. Toeing the line between satisfying their base and reaching the masses is going to be a huge task for Republicans this year, and may get even harder as the divide between the two parties widens with every bill that makes it to a vote. The trump card in all of this mess is the economy. If the slide continues Obama has no chance at being re-elected, and the battle for the White House will essentially be decided in the Republican presidential primaries.