The 2012 Presidential Election: Is Mama Bear Running? Will it be the “Swaggering Texan”? Will Obama Pull it Together in Time?

The 2012 Presidential Election: Is Mama Bear Running? Will it be the “Swaggering Texan”? Will Obama Pull it Together in Time?

Abigail Crosby, Op-Ed Writer

With so many publicized candidates for the presidential election in 2012, who knows who will even have a chance? President Obama’s approval rating is low, at around 40% (as of September 20th, 2011). Many in the Republican Party say that he has not done what he promised: to bring about change. Some blame him for the debt and the downturned economy, although both have been building since long before he became president. There are quite a few Republican candidates, many aligned with the Tea Party (a very conservative political movement), like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry. There are many more publicized Republican candidates than Democratic, because the Democratic Party is so unpopular at the moment. Who will win? Do we still trust the current president to bring us out of our debt? Will we elect a moderate? An extreme Republican? Or will an unknown Democratic candidate come out of the blue and knock us off our feet?

President Obama’s approval rating is very low, and it’s not likely that it will get much better in the coming year before the election. However, it is still 40%, according to a Gallup poll. That means that 40% of Americans surveyed still believe that what he is doing is right. What those people realize is that it is not Obama’s fault that we have such a deep debt. Our country’s debt has been growing since before he was even born. It is correct to say that he added to the debt, but almost every other president has. Many say that he promised change, and didn’t deliver. They are right, but to a point. What these 40% realize is that the debt isn’t going to go away overnight. If more of the country realizes that, Obama will have a very good chance of winning this election. Mr. Michael Denny, Global Diplomacy teacher said, “It’s all going to depend on the job numbers as we go forward… the stock market, consumer confidence… If they’re dismal, his chances won’t improve.” If things improve into next year, I believe his chances will be better. There are also very few Democratic candidates in the public eye at the moment. When asked why he thought this was, Mr. Denny said, “There are just no strong [democratic] competitors to Obama.” He is the incumbent president, and when an incumbent is running, there generally aren’t too many challengers from the same political party.

There are many highly publicized Republican candidates for the election, including Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and possibly (and highly likely) Sarah Palin. I believe that there are so many Republicans because they are trusting that the people are unhappy with the job that the Democrats, specifically Obama, have done. Many of these Republican candidates are exceedingly radical, especially Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann, and there is dispute over whether this will help or hurt them in the election. Many believe that they are too radical, and their extremely conservative values will hurt their chance in the election. But just as many others think that they will win the election because they are so extreme. These people, and the extreme candidates, believe that people are so unhappy with the job that Obama has done, they will elect a candidate from the opposite end of the spectrum, which Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry are definitely from. When asked if he thought that they would win or lose because of their extreme values, Mr. Denny said, “Winning the independent and moderate republican voter is important, and the extremes of the Tea Party—their ideas about spending cuts and the idea that default is okay will hurt them… What will help them is being so adamant about lowering deficit spending.” I agree with Mr. Denny. I think that if these extreme candidates start catering more to the independent and moderate voters, they will have a very high chance of winning, but if they continue to endorse playing brinksmanship with our economy, their extreme values will hurt them.

Rick Perry has been negatively compared to George Bush Jr, as a “swaggering Texas governor,” but even more vocal about his conservative religious beliefs, which could easily hurt him. When I asked Mr. Denny how he thought they compared, he said, “There are similarities. But he’s going to need to be careful with his statements.” He then referenced Rick Perry calling out Timothy Geithner for doing something Perry deemed “treasonous.” Peter Crosby, an Intelligence Analyst for the navy, said, “He is going to have to be careful with what he says, because he has so much influence.” I believe that while Rick Perry has similarities to Bush, he is much more charismatic, which will most definitely help him in this election, even if his vocality about his conservative religious beliefs hurts him.

The Tea Party has definitely been vocal about their extreme beliefs in the past year. When asked how much influence they would have on the election, Mr. Denny said, “They’re already having a significant impact on the discussion… there is a serious discussion about debt reduction, and that proves their impact.” The Tea Party has opened a can of worms that will not be closed easily.

So, who will win? It depends on how much Republicans cater to the moderate voter, and how much the economy improves (or weakens) through this year.