Predictions and fortune-telling are among the least reliable forms of information known to man. However trends often cross over years and can signal whether or not big changes are going to occur. My predictions are not usually accurate, but I am beginning to see a series of events which will likely lead to the re-election of President Obama.
I'm starting a series which will hopefully go to show that while things aren't hopeless for the Republican Party, the warning bells should be sounded.
1. Lack of a Republican 'incumbent.'
This doesn't simply mean that there's not a Republican President or Vice President in office today, but that there is no one waiting in the wings to take the Republican mantle. I know what many may think: that Sarah Palin, as VP candidate in 2008, is ready to take over the fight. However, as 2008 showed, many in the party were willing to support a moderate candidate (McCain and Giuliani). Palin's conservatism may not be a liability with the base, but may lead many to believe that she is unwinnable in a general election.
And this goes beyond Palin. In 2008, McCain was an early favorite because he had come in a strong second in the last Republican primary. In 1976, Ronald Reagan had almost won the primaries away from sitting President Gerald Ford. When the Republicans did not have a sitting legacy, they were destroyed. Take 1996, when Robert Dole was blown out, barely gathering 40% of the national vote. Yes, he was a contender in the 1988 Republican primaries, but not near the amount of legacy of Reagan and McCain.
In addition, many of the Republican candidates are already known to run poor campaigns. Much enthusiasm was generated by former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. According to some, the actor would grant the field the conservatism and gravitas to carry the primaries. Instead, he flopped.
Mitt Romney flipped on nearly every important issue regarding his reign as Governor of Massachusetts. On gay marriage, taxes, and abortion, he made swift turns which seemed (at least to me and much of the Republican electorate) as phony stancing attempting to please the Republican base. Instead, his mediocre record as Governor helped doomed his candidacy to a much more moderate character, McCain.
Mike Huckabee is a jovial, likable former Governor of Arkansas. His record as Governor was excellent and has a speaking ability that may top the Republican field. However, his religious views and ties with the church, being a former pastor, may hurt his chances in any Fall 2012 matchup. Huckabee is also seen as unrefined by many in his own party, lacking the business "finesse" of Romney (not that he has much anyway) or military experience of McCain.
Rudy Giuliani was one of the best mayors of New York City. He reduced taxes, unemployment, and crime. He cleaned up NYC's mess after Dinkins and helped propel a 1990s boom. His moderate views, particularly on abortion and gay marriage, alienated many in the Conservative base, but still was considered an early favorite. Giuliani may stand a shot against Obama in 2012 if the focus is on national security. However, pop culture and a short attention span seems to downplay his heroic leadership on and after the September 11th, 2001 massacres. Joe Biden's joke about Giuliani's sentence-making is similar to saying that Churchill's sentences were a "noun, a verb, and the Battle of Britain."
Bobby Jindal is a reformist from Louisiana. He may become President one day, but he is far too smart to challenge Obama if he is still popular. By 2012, Jindal may not have a strong record to stand on (although 2008 proved that you do not need one to win) and his conservative views will be mercilessly attacked during any general election campaign. My guess is he won't run until 2016 at the earliest.
There are many others who may vie for the Republican nomination in three years. Among the names are Eric Cantor, George Pataki, and John Huntsman. However, the fact that many are virtual unknowns will probably not help to unseat a current President.
Tune in for part two.
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