Prediction: Obama, Romney, Hillary for President

26Dec11

This is my early prediction of the outcome of the 2012 presidential election contest.  This prediction is based on the assumptions that the electorate tends, most of the time, to choose the better of the two major party candidates — and that I know which candidate that would be.  Like most of the posts in this blog, this is an idea piece, dashed off in short order to convey some thoughts.

My prediction is that Obama would defeat any of the available Republicans except Mitt Romney.  There appears to be a chance, at the moment, that the contender in November 2012 will be Ron Paul, but I think that will pass.  I don’t believe the public at large (or even the Republican Party) is, or should be, ready for a libertarian president.  But it would be interesting to see what would happen if I turned out to be wrong on that.

I think Obama will lose to Romney, if that’s the matchup, because both are fighting for the same centrist turf, and this time Obama won’t have the same level of support from those who believed he would bring change — whereas Romney would have the support much of the center and almost all of the right, unless maybe if Ron Paul runs as an independent.  I’m also not certain that, in practice, Romney’s policies would be much more conservative than Obama’s.  From his time in Massachusetts, it actually appears Romney could be more liberal, and also more effective, on some important issues.

Going into the Democratic Party convention (Charlotte, NC, Sept. 3-7, 2012), it presently seems that Romney and Obama could have a close race.  Given Obama’s current popularity, though, continued economic sluggishness (or worse) would hurt him, as would other major adversities.   There is also a good chance that, after the primaries, Romney will move to the left, positioning himself as the real agent of change.  People criticize Romney for flip-flopping, but that’s the point:  he’s an adept politician.

In June 2008, after the Democratic primaries, I speculated that Obama offered Hillary a deal.  If she would play along with him, and if Bill would tone it down, Obama would make Hillary the vice presidential candidate, and would reward Bill with a position of some sort.  I was wrong on both counts, though in a sense I had it right with Hillary:  her appointment as Secretary of State has probably made her more visible and powerful than she would have been as VP.  Apparently it did not take a deal to get Bill to quiet down and let Obama do his thing.

On January 1, 2009, my prediction was, “Obama Won’t Pull It Off.”  I was referring, there, to the economy.  He was already coming across as a centrist in a revolutionary situation.  That prediction was on the mark.  We have a much more visibly revolutionary situation and mood in the country, now, than we did then, and Obama has substantially missed it.

There may have been more to the deal with Hillary in June 2008, or in any event there may be little choice but to make a deal with her in September 2012.  If Obama finds himself as badly embarrassed and out-of-touch with the electorate next summer as LBJ in 1968 — that is, if Obama appears certain to lose in November — he may consider it best, for himself and/or his party and the country, to defer to an alternate candidate.  It presently seems Hillary would be the most likely alternative, and my guess is that she would beat Romney.

So here’s my extremely early prediction.  On the grand level, Obama continues to be a lackluster leader, and I think that’s what he will continue to be through next year.  Mitt Romney will survive the Republican primaries and will then enjoy a relatively dynamic position vis-a-vis Obama.  In other words, he will have a lot of ways to make Obama look bad and himself look good.  By late summer, Obama will be facing the choice of a crushing defeat or a gracious and possibly pre-planned handoff to Hillary.  And she will win.

I give this entire scenario about a 16% probability of playing out as described here.  That is, its odds are 75% x 65% x 80% x 70% x 60%.  Specifically:  75% says that Obama remains weak, 65% that Romney wins the primaries, 80% that he looks vastly better than Obama by August, 70% that Obama will hand off to Hillary under such circumstances, and 60% that she will beat Romney.  At 16%, it’s obviously not a sure thing.  It just seems like the single most likely sequence of events at this moment, shortly before the Republican primaries begin.

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