If Barack Obama does indeed win re-election in seven weeks he will need to get busy right away penning Thank-You notes to those most responsible for his victory. He should start with the Republican primary voters, who chose an incredibly weak candidate as their standard bearer. Conditions were certainly favorable to unseat the incumbent—the economy has spent four years trying to work up a head of steam without much success. Normally, this would be enough to force a sitting President out of office, (see: Carter, Jimmy and Bush, George H.W.) All it would take would be a marginally acceptable candidate, yet the Republican field was exceptionally weak this year. President Bachman? President Gingrich? President Santorum? Compared to these utterly unqualified strivers, Mitt Romney must have looked like the best option. He was the cream that rose slowly to the top of a rancid bucket.
So I suppose some Thank Yous need to go to Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels and other qualified Republicans who chose to sit out this year. After each of the Republican candidates spent a week or two as front-runner, Mitt cleared them out of the way with millions of dollars of negative ads and then stepped into the nomination with the numbers behind him, but not the passion of the base. The only Republican in the field who may have actually been electable in the General Election was the other Mormon—John Huntsman—and he dropped out early.
Another Thank You needs to go out to the Tea Party. With their “No Compromise, No Surrender” attitude they certainly drove many middle-of-the-road voters toward Barack Obama. Tea Party extremism only served to show by contrast how centrist Barack Obama’s policies really are. Most specifically, the Tea Party caucus inthe House of Representatives made President Obama look like the only adult in the room compared to their childish antics. Mitt may have had it right when he said that 47% of the voters were going to stick with President Obama no matter what. The 5 to 10 percent of voters who were undecided were ripe for the picking this year, but the Tea Party’s extremist rhetoric and refusal to compromise drove many undecideds to stay home or to vote for the incumbent.
The Senate Republicans also deserve a written Thank You. Senator Mitch McConnell made itclear a few years ago that he saw his first job as making sure President Obamadid not get re-elected. (I don’t remember that from the oath of office he took, but I must not have been listening very carefully.) Again, in contrast to the obstructionist Senate Republicans, President Obama looked like an adult who was willing to compromise for the good of the country.
It is too soon to know who will be elected President on November 6, 2012. I think Barack Obama will win, and it might even be an Electoral College landslide. If so, some Presidential Thank Yous will be in order. The Republicans, in their obsession with unseating Barack Obama, may have instead pushed him over the top and into a second term.