Very seldom does the US vote out an incumbent president, but it has happened three times in my lifetime: Carter defeats Ford (1976), Reagan defeats Carter (1980) and Clinton defeats Bush (1992). This is a sign of the times, perhaps, American voters are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the Federal government. I think the most relevant of the elections in my lifetime (for this blog post) is Reagan's re-election in 1984. At this point in Reagan's presidency (when I compare him to Obama) in 1983, his approval numbers were very low just as low as Obama's now. Obama is around 42% approval now with personal approval a bit higher. Reagan's approval rate was 37% in January 1983 and on the rise to 45% by October. A Gallop poll in 1983 predicted that Walter Mondale would defeat Reagan by a substantial margin. This is obviously very wrong since the opposite happened with Reagan taking 49 states. Lesson here: a lot can happen in a year. What happened in that year? The most important events for him were probably the pulling out of Lebanon (an extremely unpopular operation), a quick military victory in Grenada and of course, the big one, the economy recovered in a very big way. These events along with Reagan's political savvy and charisma and his opponent's lack thereof, resulted in a victory for the incumbent.
So could Obama win re-election? Of course, he could. Is it likely that big events like this will happen in the next year? The economy shows no sign of recovery, like it or not, this is the biggest factor in any election even though president really don't have that big of an affect on it. I think the other big factor in lack of a good candidate in the Republican party which seems like a mess these days. Making political predictions a year in advance is fool hardy. So this is why I make them now, so that I have an excuse for them being wrong. I am doing this earlier than I did in the last election cycle, so I will be predicting the nominee for the Republican party and the running mate. Also, I am going to predict a long shot for the Obama campaign.
1st Prediction: Almost on a daily basis, the Republican nominees for president have a different leader. Businessman Herman Cain had a surge after the first debate, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was the front runner for a time after she won the Iowa Straw Poll and now, as of today, Rick Perry has a commanding lead. But my prediction goes towards Mitt Romney. Regardless of what I have said in the past about the Republican party, the sane people still out-number the crazies. Like McCain, Romney is one of the few nominees that doesn't scare me and if not for the crazy element of his own party (aka the Tea Party), he would probably be a decent president. He hasn't lead the pack for a while but he is always been in the top tier. He is approximately in the same spot that McCain was five years ago or so. Romney will win New Hampshire and the rest of the pack will start dropping out thereafter. His running mate? Michelle Bachmann. Like McCain, his right wing chops are in question. Not only will Bachmann help appease the Tea Party but the fact that she is woman will only help the ticket.
2nd Prediction: I know this one sounds far fetch, but I am throwing it out there anyway. Obama originally brought Joe Biden onto the ticket to help fill a hole in his resume, namely, Obama's lack of international affairs experience. Let's face it Biden has been a drain on this administration (PR-wise) and he'd a much better choice for Secretary of State than Hillary Clinton. Since Hillary (and Bill) have proved that they can play well with Obama, I predict that Hillary and Joe are going to switch jobs. The Obama / Clinton ticket would win it all.
So here it: the Obama/Clinton ticket will defeat the Romney / Bachmann ticket for 2012.