2008 presidential election was about
"change." The 2012 presidential election
is about blame, failure, collapsing bases and the
avoidance of humiliation.
we still plausibly blame the "failed economic
policies" of the Bush Administration for the
country's seemingly intractable economic doldrums?
Or do we blame the "failed economic
policies" of the Obama Administration,
reliant on stimulus and spending, for failing to
rectify the "failed economic policies"
of his predecessor?
the election slightly more than four months away,
this much is clear: Barack Obama will do and say
whatever it takes to win. He is impelled by the
"humiliation factor" -- if he loses
re-election he will be deemed a
"failure" as president, consigned to the
dustbin of history with other such one-term
rejectees as John Adams, John Quincy Adams,
William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter
and George H.W. Bush. That is not the company that
Obama wants to keep.
be a credible and historically sanctioned
"success" as president, an incumbent
must at least win a second term. If the electorate
rejects you, so, too, will historians. None of the
43 men who have served as president are rated
great, near great or even good if they failed to
get re-elected. A loss signifies ineptitude and
to the presumptions and suppositions of the
national media, Obama's defeat is not only
possible, but increasingly probable. The Obama
campaign is an exercise in confusion and futility.
he has not yet demonized Mitt Romney, and he may
have lost his opportunity. A non-incumbent's
campaign for the presidency evolves through
several stages. There is the introduction. Then
the fund-raising: Obama will raise close to $1
billion for the 2012 campaign, and Romney will
raise only slightly less. Then the media begin
digging, unearthing negative tidbits. Then the
polling: if the aspirant is not at or near the
front of the pack, money evaporates. Then the
primaries: if you don't win where expected or
finish a close second elsewhere, money dries up.
Then comes the negativity: the opposition's
attacks on character, competence and past
ran that gauntlet in 2008, beating Hillary
Clinton. In this campaign, Romney was excoriated
by his foes for being an out-of-touch rich guy, a
job outsourcer, a flip-flopper, the architect of
Massachusetts' health-care law and a sometime
conservative who was vague on the issues. He was
not "committed" to the Republican agenda
and was untrustworthy, they said.
stumbling to unimpressive primary victories over a
field that included such lightweights as Newt
Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, the media
opined that Romney would be a flawed and tarnished
contender, unable to unite the Republican base and
unable to appeal to non-conservative independents.
Given a choice between Obama and Romney, pundits
concluded, America would stick with the president.
But it hasn't evolved that way.
2012 contest is now, and will continue to be, a
"referendum" on Obama. In 2008 it was a
"choice" between Obama and
"change" from the Bush regime and John
McCain and four more years of Bush Republicanism.
The standard was: Who is the "best"
choice? This year it's quite different: keep Obama
or get rid of Obama. Romney is simply a means to
that end. The 2012 standard: Is Romney an
acceptable alternative? His task is to avoid any
word or act which would render him unacceptable.
has run a stellar campaign, devoid of mistakes and
stupidities. Having run in 2008 and lost the
nomination, Romney's handlers understand the
fundamentals of candidate progression. Step one is
to be serious, articulate and credible. Have a
background in some elective office. Don't have any
distractions, like a messy divorce, unpaid taxes,
a draft deferment or zany ideas. In short, don't
be an object of ridicule on late-night TV. That
earns a threshold level of public tolerability and
two is to develop a likeability quotient, which
does not mean the lovability level evidenced in
Obama's 2008 campaign. Are voters comfortable with
Romney in the White House for four years? Step
Three is the competence factor. Is Romney a
serious, thoughtful and qualified alternative?
Romney is now at Step Four -- he's viewed as
Obama has yet to unsheathe his theme: Will it be
"getting better"? Or "better than
Bush"? Or "better than before"? Or
"Give me four more years and I'll fix
everything"? Or "I'm really trying but
it's Bush's fault"? The point is: Despite $6
trillion more in debt and vast stimulus spending,
the economy is only marginally better than it was
incredibly, doesn't have a "fix-it"
plan. He doesn't boast about his successes because
he has none, he doesn't promise that his plans are
working because they aren't, and he doesn't
promise any new or different approach in a second
term because that would confess that his 2009-12
policies have been egregiously misguided and
latest polls show that roughly 60 percent of
Americans think the country is on the "wrong
track," and that Obama's approve/disapprove
rating hovers around 48/48 percent. That's
get re-elected, Obama must either give voters a
reason for a second term or, failing that, give
them a reason not to replace him with Romney. In
2004, Bush, coming off his 9/11 response and with
a booming economy, was re-elected with 50.7
percent of the vote. In 1996, Bill Clinton, with a
booming economy and a flawed Republican nominee in
Bob Dole, was re-elected with 49.2 percent of the
vote. In 1984, Ronald Reagan, having engineered an
economic recovery after the Carter debacle, was
re-elected with 58.8 percent of the vote. In 1972,
despite economic doldrums, Richard Nixon was
re-elected with 60.1 percent of the vote after
demonizing Democrat George McGovern as a liberal
wacko. In 1956, amidst Cold War tensions, Dwight
Eisenhower was re-elected with 57.4 percent of the
does not have an indisputable, universally
acclaimed record of accomplishment. He's like
Nixon in 1972. He can win only if he goes negative
on Romney. Unfortunately for Obama, Romney is not
how much of the 2008 Obama vote has hemorrhaged?
How many fewer votes will he get in 2012?
2008 Obama got 69,498,215 votes in a turnout of
129,446,455 and won 27 states and the District of
Columbia, getting 364 electoral votes. He got
10,470,106 more votes than Democrat John Kerry got
in 2004 (in a turnout of 121,068,715) and
18,502,099 more votes than Al Gore got in 2000 (in
a turnout of 101,454,341). Turnout increased by
nearly 28 million, or 27.7 percent, from 2000 to
2008. This election will not be a replay of 2008;
instead, it will resemble 2004, and the "Ten
Percent-and-Out Rule" will apply, meaning
that if Obama's 2012 vote is 10 percent less than
it was in 2008, in the realm of 63 million, he
a historical perspective:
Republican Taft, who was elected in 1908 with
7,662,258 votes, got only 3,486,333 in 1912, a 54
percent drop-off. But that was because his
predecessor, Republican Teddy Roosevelt, ran as a
Progressive Party candidate. Their joint vote was
7,605,540, and Democratic winner Woodrow Wilson's
total of 6,293,152 votes was less than the
6,406,801 that 1908 loser William Jennings Bryan
Doomed by the Great Depression, Hoover had no bold
answers or optimistic ideas. His 1928 vote of
21,411,911 plunged to 15,758,397, a 26 percent
drop-off. Voters blamed Hoover for the horrific
economy. Democrat Franklin Roosevelt won with 57
percent of the vote.
Carter ran in 1976 as the anti-Watergate
"change" candidate, promising openness
and transparency. He delivered chaos and
incompetence. His 1976 vote of 40,830,763
collapsed to 35,483,820 in 1980, a 13 percent
drop-off. Reagan, asking voters "Are you
better off today than you were four years
ago?", combined with the Iranian hostage
crisis, won a solid 50.7 percent of the vote, to
41 percent for Carter and 6.6 percent for John
The Reagan legacy got Bush elected in 1988 with
48,881,011 votes, which was less than Reagan's
54,450,603 in 1984. Despite the Gulf War victory,
the economy tanked and Bush lost to Clinton,
getting 39,102,282 votes, a drop-off of 20
percent. Clinton's vote of 44,908,233 was only
slightly more than the total of 41,825,350 that
loser Mike Dukakis got in 1988, but Ross Perot got
19,721,433 votes (18.9 percent).
presidents have a "Ten Percent-Plus"
uptick. Eisenhower's 1952 vote of 33,936,137
spiked to 35,585,247 in 1956. Nixon's 1968 vote of
31,785,148 grew to 47,170,179 in 1972. Reagan's
1980 vote of 43,901,812 boomed to 54,450,603 in
1984. Clinton's 1992 vote of 44,908,233 climbed to
47,402,357 in 1996. Bush's 50,456,169 in 2000
increased to 62,040,608 in 2004.
got 62,040,606 votes in 2004, and McCain got
59,948,240 votes in 2008. Romney's 2012 base is 63
million votes, equal to the likely Obama base.
Obama won the 2008 electoral vote by 364-174. A
total of 270 electoral votes are needed for
election, so if Obama loses electoral votes in
states he won in 2008, such as Ohio (18), North
Carolina (15), Michigan (16), Virginia (13),
Florida (29), Wisconsin (10) and Pennsylvania
(20), he's the ex-president. Obama states such as
Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico and
Minnesota also could flip.
early prediction: Obama will get a huge black
vote, but younger voters are unmotivated. Obama's
re-election is, at best, a 50/50 proposition.