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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Election 2012: Early Analysis

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Today, I've been participating in a discussion at Outside the Beltway about Barack Obama's reelection prospects in 2012. It is still very early in the election cycle and much can change before next November.

One basic fact stands out, however, regardless of polling showing the incumbent President's vulnerability in specific states he won in 2008. Obama can win reelection in 2012 merely with the Kerry states plus Florida. That means (a) the incumbent can lose Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Omaha; and (b) Republicans could be in big trouble regardless of the economy if they select a candidate who tells Florida’s retirees that their Social Security benefit is built on an unconstitutional ponzi scheme.

If the Republican’s spend most of the next year talking about the deficit (and more tax cuts), then it’s pretty easy to imagine that Social Security would seem vulnerable under their leadership -- regardless of candidate. Everyone recalls the first major policy initiative Bush pursued after his 2004 victory, right?

Despite the concessions I make above, there are long-term demographic issues working against Republicans in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

Finally, it must be noted that campaign Obama proved a lot more effective at his job than governing Obama has. Think of the jobs bill (and related tax cuts/increases) as part of the campaign instead of as a meaningful policy initiative that is likely to gain traction in the current Congress. That perspective reveals it to be an essentially populist proposal aimed at attracting swing voters — especially when pitched directly against specific Republican counter-proposals in a two-way race, namely, additional corporate tax cuts and deregulation.

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