As reluctant as I am to predict the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election at the risk of jinxing the results, I feel that President Obama will eventually be elected to a second term. A number of reasons lead me to believe this. First, there are no Democratic challengers (I’m not saying that won’t change because who knows what lurks in Dennis Kucinnich’s mind); a pretty good signal that the Democratic party is generally satisfied with the job the President is doing. Second is the shallow bench the Republican party is currently fielding. Counting the third tier candidates and the drop-outs there have been over a dozen would-be nominees for the Republicans.
With Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour’s exit from the campaign as a top tier candidates, the field of Republicans has narrowed to six formally declared, six formally exploring, and about half dozen seriously considering.
- Newt Gingrich
- Gary Johnson (former Governor of New Mexico)
- Fred Karger (political consultant and gay activist)
- Andy Martin (perennial candidate from Illinois)
- Jimmy McMillan (Rent Is Too Damn High Party)
- Ron Paul
Formally exploring (MSNBC’s Chuck Todd notes this is no different than declaring):
- Herman Cain
- Roy Moore (former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama)
- Tim Pawlenty
- Buddy Roemer (former Governor of Louisiana)
- Mitt Romney
- Rick Santorum
Other prospective contenders yet to declare:
- Jon Huntsman
- Mitch Daniels
- Michele Bachmann
Donald Trump(according to PT Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute“)
- Sarah Palin
Whenever there are as many potential candidates running for office as there are now, it usually means one of two things: the challengers are sharks that smell blood in the water or they are sacrificial lambs. Perhaps it is my partisan support of the President that keeps me from seeing it but I just do not detect any feeling of political opportunity for or from the Republicans this time around.
The Biblical reference to sacrificial lamb, of course, is self explanatory. Farmers in some countries will sacrifice a sickly calf down river when they need to get their herd across alligator or piranha infested waters. A political sacrificial lamb is a metaphorical reference for a person who has little if any chance of winning an upcoming race, but seeks to sacrifice him or herself for the good of the party. Alternately, to gain political bona fides, public name recognition, and practice for a future run. Some candidates, like Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinnich, will run just to get a set of alternative ideals out in public as a contrast to other conventional candidates.
I tried to think up some different metaphors; cannon fodder just didn’t seem appropriate. I thought ‘Redshirt’ might work well. Redshirt is a Hollywood reference to the colour of the uniforms of security personnel on the original television show, Star Trek. If you beamed down to a hostile planet, the guys with the red shirts were always the ones who got zapped by the aliens first (which just goes to show how dumb aliens are. They never figure out that if you take out the one in charge first, things go a lot easier). 73% of crewmembers who died on the show were redshirts. But not Scotty.
There appears to be no one outstanding Republican candidate. They all have a down side to contend with whether it be religion, Romneycare, values compromises, crazy notions, crazy hair and birther issues, inexperience, hard lines on social issues, or just being plain uninteresting, there just isn’t anyone who can really take down President Obama. Many political writers have recommended a Franken-candidate made up of qualities of several of the above mentioned. Absent that possibility, the field of Republican candidates looks a bit sheepish.
So if winning in 2012 is a long shot, why bother at all? History shows that candidates who lose in one cycle often do well in the next since for some reason American political cycles; at least in the twentieth century, swing like a crazy pendulum from Republican to Democrat every decade. So these candidates may have their eye on 2016. It may be why Huckabee dropped out. It could be why Romney has yet to declare. Republicans tend to have a pecking order and it appears to be Romney’s turn. Unless he dumps a lot of his personal money into a presidential run like last time, Romney has nothing to lose and a lot to gain for 2016 by losing to Obama. The only danger would be that Republican candidates only seem to get two times at bat before they are considered perennial losers.
But, there is a lot of calendar real estate between now and the Republican nomination and anything could happen to change the course of things.
(Aside from a bio of Mitch Daniels due later this week, the Contender Series will now become a monthly or dependent on circumstances feature at 538 Refugees. We will examine all the potential candidates collectively as people declare or drop out up until the Republican nomination.
Focus will now shift to the Senate Seat Series as these races may turn out to be more important, though less dramatic, than the 2012 Presidential race. The possibility of a a Republican filibuster-proof Senate and a Republican house would make a Democratic Presidential win fairly inconsequential.)
- Huckabee ‘says no’, widens open GOP field (msnbc.msn.com)
- Why Republicans should run in 2012 — to lose (salon.com)
- PARTY HOPPER: Jimmy McMillan switches to GOP (politico.com)
- Mike Huckabee will not seek Republican presidential nomination (guardian.co.uk)