With the 2012 presidential campaign about to conclude just days from now, I offer these closing thoughts on what has been an emotional and seemingly endless campaign.
The United States has the longest electoral process in the world to choose its leader. Presidential candidates begin formulating exploratory committees and making outright announcements a full two years before Election Day! The irony is that with the notable exception of Jimmy Carter, those who begin the process exceptionally early rarely make it to the White House — just ask Phil Crane, Mike Gravel and Tom Vilsack.
If President Obama wins re-election, the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination will begin right after he is inaugurated — and possibly before! Look for Chris Christie, Jon Huntsman, Paul Ryan and Rick Santorum — among others — to start trudging up to New Hampshire.
Mitt Romney received no “bounce” from his nominating convention in Tampa. According to Gallup, he actually lost one point in the polls in the aftermath of his convention, becoming the third presidential nominee — and the first Republican presidential nominee — to get no bounce since Gallup began tracking this in 1964. The others? George McGovern in 1972, who received a zero bounce in the polls, and John Kerry in 2004, who, like Romney, went down one point in the polls.
According to Gallup, President Obama received a median five-point bounce from his re-nominating convention in Charlotte. Thus, the Democratic National Convention was more successful in boosting its party’s nominee than was the Republican National Convention. Whereas the DNC was crisp and breezy, the RNC was staid and stale.
According to various media sources, over one-third of the American electorate will have voted before Election Day. Whoa! Election Day is just that — Election Day — not Election Week or Election Month. Suppose an early-bird voter changes his or her mind after watching a debate or after a major development in the campaign? Too late!
Taxes and prices are going up next year regardless of who wins. The expiration of payroll tax cuts and drought-related cost increases in field crops, among other things, will occur on the next president’s watch, whether it is Obama or Romney.
According to recent NBC/Wall Street Journal and Marist College polls, Obama has a comfortable lead in Wisconsin — despite the presence of homestater Paul Ryan on the GOP ticket. Not looking good if a vice-presidential candidate cannot deliver his home state.
According to recent polling data from organizations such as Gallup, Ipsos and Rasmussen, although their methodologies are different they all point to the same conclusion: Despite some slight gains for Romney nationally, most of the individual battleground state polls continue to show Obama with small to comfortable leads. And the battleground states are where this election will be won.
Romney’s competitors from the GOP primaries and caucuses have been conspicuously absent from the general election campaign, and their silence speaks volumes about their enthusiasm for Romney. Allowing Romney to be defeated clears the way for Rick Santorum, in particular, to begin the process of what is likely to be a 2016 re-try.
Speaking of enthusiasm, Ann Romney did not have much of it recently when she publicly stated that if her husband loses, he will not try again in 2016. Sounds like a tacit write-off of Nov. 6.
When all is said and done, Obama will win re-election. He should receive around 51 percent of the popular vote, and around 300 electoral votes, possibly more (270 needed to win).
Richard Padova teaches government and politics at Northern Essex Community College and has worked on eight presidential campaigns — Democratic and Republican.