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James Hanson
Upper Sixth
Moberly's House

The 2012 Presidential Election is the Republicans to lose, but lose it they may well!

The 2012 Presidential Election is the Republicans to lose, but lose it they may well!

They’ve just secured the biggest electoral swing for almost thirty years and surfed a wave of discontent from the voters towards Barack Obama’s Democrats, yet the real prize for the newly resurgent Republican Party is the Presidential election in 2012. Despite the poll being a full two years away, most commentators acknowledge that the race for the Republican nomination had already begun, with the party’s selection of a candidate likely to be crucial in deciding whether or not Obama wins a second term in the White House.

Part of the Republicans extraordinary success in the recent mid-term elections was due to the new vigour injected into the party by the Tea Party movement. This new breed of right-wing anti-government freedom fighters partly helped to demolish Obama’s mandate for continued economic stimulus, and with the movement continuing to gain both momentum and influence, many see this particular wing of the Republicans playing a key role in the 2012 vote.

On the face of it, Obama seems almost destined to lose in two years time. His headline policies of health care reform and economic stimulus have been firmly rejected by the electorate, and now any hopes of him pushing through the more contentious issues on his agenda have effectively been quashed by the Republican’s recapturing of the House of Representatives. Perhaps even more ominously, the American public seems less than enamoured by his leadership style, with many considering him too aloof, distant and perhaps arrogant to fully understand their anger.

Yet haven’t we been here before? Back in 1994, Bill Clinton received a similarly damning first term setback when the Republicans snatched both Houses of Congress in what at the time appeared to mark the beginning of the end of his Presidency. However, only two years later, having diplomatically worked well with the Republican leadership to force through popular legislation such as ensuring a balanced budget, he was re-elected with a landslide. With this is mind; there is hope for Obama yet.

However part of the reason for Clinton’s sensational victory in 1996, was the weakness of his Republican opponent, Bob Dole. If Obama is to win a second term two years from now, one suspects he will need to face similarly unappealing counterpart.

Yet surely the Republicans wouldn’t be foolish enough to choose another Dole-type figure? Well, the leadership may not, but the all-powerful grass roots, who are being infiltrated by the hard right, will want a candidate who reflects their agenda.

Perhaps this will come in the face of a Tea Party darling under the banner of the Republican Party, such as a Sarah Palin or Marco Rubio, the newly elected Senator for Florida. If this were to be the case, such a candidate would in all likelihood be too right wing for mainstream America to pallet, and despite what would surely be a vigorous campaign against him; Obama would probably survive for a second term in these circumstances.

Alternatively, the Republican establishment (who are deeply unpopular with the Tea Party movement) may get their way and select a moderate candidate such as Mitt Romney, who will appeal to the floating voters who flocked to Obama in 2008. However, should they follow such a path, what chance of the Tea Party putting up their own candidate in protest? Tea Party members often like to boast that they are ‘Christians, Americans and Republicans, in that order’ and would surely have no qualms about backing a third candidate, perhaps Rand Paul. If this occurred, the right wing vote would be split, leaving Obama a clean passage back into the oval office.

The only viable option left for the Republicans is to chose a candidate who has enough conservative credentials to appease the Tea Party vote, but a broad enough mainstream appeal to win over floating voters. Quite who fits this bill remains to be seen, and the Republicans will have to select wisely if they are to return to Presidential power in 2012. In short, the Presidential election of two years time is the Republicans to lose, but lose it they may well.

23 November 2010

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