Only one Republican, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, has formed a 2012 presidential exploratory committee. Politicos presume that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will also be a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, as will be Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Widespread perception is that Republicans are fearful of running against Barack Obama... that "Obama will be hard to beat." Republican strategist Karl "Bush's Brain" Rove recently wrote, "Republicans underestimate President Obama at their own peril."
But Republicans are wrong to fear Obama in 2012. I honestly have little idea why Republicans are afraid of the President's prospects in 2012. Sure, he has formidable political skills, and can deliver a terrific speech. But...
- the first two years of Obama's administration have left a huge portion of his supporters deeply disillusioned;
- the dithering economy remains dismal for Americans who are not wealthy, and
- the country is now mired in not two, but three international conflicts or occupations.
Mind you, I'm voting for Obama, barring unimaginable developments. For me, having a Democrat in the White House is vastly preferable to having any Tea Party-fearing Republican occupying the Oval Office.
But I strongly believe that Obama is beatable in 2012. The President must mend fences with certain crucial constituencies, or he'll surely lose the election:
- Obama Imperiled in 2012 by Taking Latinos for Granted
- College Students Disappointed by Obama, Crucial to 2012 Election
Even if he successfully re-woos Latinos and college students back into his fawning fold, President Obama must motivate two other vital groups to flock to the polls in droves and vote for him: liberals who feel letdown by Obama's long string of broken 2008 promises, and Independents who are appalled by Tea Party Republican extremism.
I believe Obama will have an easier time in 2012 attracting support from Independents than he will from disenchanted Democrats. For many liberals, not being the worst alternative on the ballot isn't good enough reason to vote for Obama.
I fear that many Democrats could stay home in 2012. President Mitt Romney would be thrilled and grateful to them.