Surprising no one, President Obama announced on Monday that he intends to seek a second term. But the playing field he faces is rockier than it was in 2008. As a sitting president, he can no longer enchant voters with the promise of "hope and change," and he'll have to overcome several serious obstacles. Still, some commentators think it's a near certainty that Obama will stay in the White House through 2016. Here are five reasons why they consider him "unbeatable" in 2012:
1. The Republican Party is a divided mess
A "competent and focused opposition" could probably beat Obama in 2012, says Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times. But the Republican Party is in disarray. Presidential hopefuls will have to "cater to all the crazies" in the Tea Party, meaning that the eventual GOP nominee will likely be "committed to an agenda that is far to the right of the average American voter." With such hamstrung opponents, "Obama is a hot favorite to win re-election."
2. Independents are still up for grabs
Obama may be sagging in the polls, says Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic, but independent voters are not "particularly enamored" with Republicans either. And those Americans whose "votes are switchable" tend to be motivated less by "social issues" than by fresh ideas. "This is a plus for Democrats." Independents will decide this election like they do every other. Obama still has a "chance at winning them over."
3. He will have serious money behind him
Obama is expected to raise as much as $1 billion, says Patricia Zengerle at Reuters, a figure "unprecedented in U.S. politics." Although he will likely lose many of the grassroots donors who backed him in 2008, the president will benefit from "the kind of big-money donations he has criticized in the past." His campaign war chest is "likely to dwarf that of his eventual Republican opponent."
4. The polls aren't that bad
Obama's numbers, while poor, are comparable to those of George W. Bush in 2003, says a Pew Research Center poll. His "personal favorability" rating is still strong, with 58 percent of voters saying they view him favorably. And while Obama's job approval rating of 47 percent is "hardly stellar," says Eli Lehrer at Frum Forum, it's "in the same ballpark" as those of Clinton, Reagan and Nixon at the same point in their first terms. "And all three won in landslides."
5. The demographics favor Obama
Obama's base may be "disgruntled," says Konrad Yakabuski at The Globe and Mail, but he'll have "demographics on his side" in 2012. A record 28 percent of the electorate will be made up of black, Hispanic and minority voters, and Obama won nearly 80 percent of these demographics' votes last time around. If he can marshal them again, he can win the election with only a "stunningly small percentage of the white vote."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Russia's new air force is a mystery
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- When it comes to ISIS, our Congress is full of cowards
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- How I became a borderline hoarder
- How Hillary Clinton's 'smart power' turned Libya into a dumpster fire
Subscribe to the Week