Jorge E. Flores
A little more than a year is left before another election cycle is completed and Americans are able to clamor back into voting booths across the nation to submit their choice for president of the United States. Though a full year of campaigning remains, certain media outlets are already picking winners and losers. According to some, President Obama’s reelection hopes are doomed, and Rick Perry is on track to become the Republican nominee and the 45th president of the United States.
As many know, however, it is often unwise to write off candidates and declare a winner too far in advance. After all, Perry’s path no longer seems like such smooth sailing with his various missteps in the past weeks. Moreover, the president who pulled off a solid victory in 2008 likely still has some tricks up his sleeve. Though we cannot safely predict the results yet, we can certainly learn much about how the various candidates will fare in the grueling general election by their current political situations and their handling of these situations.
First, on the Republican side, we have the current major contenders, Mitt Romney, the relatively recent addition of Rick Perry, and the increasingly popular Herman Cain. After a couple of uncertain weeks following Rick Perry’s announcement and subsequent vetting, Mitt Romney has regained his place as the frontrunner in the Republican race. This reemergence even in the face of a “fresh’’ conservative candidate is a strong indication of Romney’s overall formidability as a Republican and national candidate.
In the wake of his lackluster debate performances in September, Rick Perry has been struggling to recapture the novelty of his candidacy. His lack of polish on the debate floor has raised concerns among many of how well he could contend with the president in a debate.
On the other hand, the obscure Herman Cain has been an unexpected rising star in field. Whether this is a permanent hype or just a temporary spike of attention akin to Mike Huckabee in 2008, remains to be seen. Only time will tell.
In what has been consistently called a weak field of candidates, the Republicans have been largely dissatisfied with their choices. Many have even gone so far as to try to influence Gov. Chris Christie and Sarah Palin to run. While the field seems to be stabilizing, we still have a ways to go until the actual primaries. In that time, don’t be surprised to see a resurgence of Michelle Bachman or Ron Paul. As Herman Cain’s quick rise in popularity has proved, this is a very fluid and dynamic race.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the president is facing constant criticism. Unlike Romney, Perry and company, the president has the disadvantage of being the established candidate, something he is not familiar with. As the incumbent, he will be forced to run a very different campaign than that of 2008 when he touted change from the previous administration. Luckily for him, the president holds the advantage of being able to place blame on the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, painting it as an obstructionist to his reforms. President Obama’s current approval ratings may not be the greatest, but they’re certainly better than that of the current Congress. If he can successfully pin the Republicans as the party preventing America’s job recovery to suit their own interests, he has more than a fighting chance against anyone the Republicans put forth for the general election. I can hear the chants already: ‘‘Four more years! four more years!’’ Stay tuned.