7/8: The GOP for 2012

By Dr. Lee M. Miringoff

What is particularly striking about our recent national poll on campaign 2012 is the lack of definition of the GOP field of White House wannabes.   Mitt Romney, the generally recognized front-runner, has the support of a mere 19% of Republican and Republican leaning independents.  Not exactly emulating Secretariat’s run in the Belmont Stakes.  Romney is trying to make President Obama’s handling of the economy the central issue of the campaign in the worst possible way.  With his latest flip-flop, it seems he’s doing just that.

caricature of Lee Miringoff

Then, there’s the bench, the second tier in the poll numbers.  What stands out about this group — Giuliani, Perry, and Palin — is that none of them, as of yet, is an announced candidate.  Does one, two, or three eventually get in and what does that do to a changing line-up that has already lost Trump, Huckabee, Christie, Daniels, and Barbour, media grabbing would be candidates?

And, then there’s the long list of niche candidates none of whom breaks into double digits at this point.  Is there a possible future nominee or president among them?  Sure.  But, it’s a very long way for any of them before they earn the keys to the oval office.

Despite this cloudy GOP picture, President Obama should not be drafting his second inaugural address just yet.  His approval rating is mired in the mid-forties and he’s at his lowest point in how voters assess his handling of the economy.  The latest unemployment figures are not likely to ease anyone’s economic anguish.

Not surprisingly, his re-elect numbers are not impressive.  Only 36% say they will definitely vote to re-elect the President, and 42% opt for the so-called “generic” Republican.  Here’s the rub.  When you replace the “generic” GOPer with the name of a specific Republican, President Obama opens up an advantage.  He even breaks fifty against Palin.

No doubt, this is a narrative that is still unfolding.  But, I sense it’s likely to be the storyline for some time.