The 2012 US Presidential race is certainly going to be interesting. That’s for sure. There is no end of permutations, twists and turns ahead which will make very entertaining viewing for us over this side of the pond.
Every time you make a statement about the election, there are caveats and “but ifs” which follow.
It’s tempting to say that Obama is sunk because of the US economy. However, there are strong signs now of a solid recovery. Last week’s job news was very positive and polls are showing a thawing of anti-Obama feeling.
You could also say that Obama is hated by some. Indeed, the vitriol aimed at Obama by the right-wing is extraordinary. But generally, Obama does well in polls for likeability.
Sometimes, Democrat Presidents struggle to shrug off the image of being soft on foreign matters. I’m thinking particularly of Jimmy Carter, who was crippled (politically) by the Iran hostages affair. However, whether you believe he’s right or wrong, Obama has been stunningly effective in foreign affairs from a US point of view. Bin Laden is dead, al-Quaeda is neutered, the Iran war has “ended”, the Afghanistani war will probably be within sight of an end by November, and no new full-scale wars have started.
You could say that Obama has been a lame duck President because he is forever in a deadlock with Republicans on the Hill. But, legislatively, he has been one of the most successful Presidents in living history, with Healthcare reform and a number of other key legislative packages in place.
While Mitt Romney has struggled to get Republican primary support, he will seem like a more natural, main-stream candidate for the general election. He’s a great fund-raiser and has an extraordinary loyal and wide base of campaign workers.
Sadly, there is one significant factor which may make this US Presidential Election dirtier and more dominated by money than any other recent Presidential race.
That factor is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 2010. The Supreme Court ruling in that case made it legal for corporations and unions to spend from their general treasuries to finance independent expenditures in campaigns through Political Action Committees, or PACs or SuperPACs. This means that the 2012 US Presidential campaign will be absolutely awash with millions of dollars’ worth of TV adverts attacking each side.
It’s not going to be edifying.
* Paul Walter is a LibDem activist in Newbury, Berkshire and blogs at Liberal Burblings