To say that President Barack Obama's approval rating is not where he wants it to be as September beckons - nor where he thought it would be - would be an understatement. And that's led some political analysts to argue that Obama is looking at a loss in November's presidential election.
However, don't bet the house, as the saying goes, on the above, as there are several, objective, substantive factors which point to Obama's re-election in roughly two months.
Here are those factors, from least to most important:
5 Obama got Osama. President George W. Bush initiated the war on terror and kept the United States safe after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2011. However, Bush, a member of a party with a reputation for being strong on defense - did not capture Al-Qaeda Leader Osama bin Laden in the remaining seven years of his presidency.
President Obama did, however, with a brilliant, brave raid by U.S. Navy SEALS that resulted in the killing of bin Laden, and the American people will give Obama the credit he deserves for the achievement of this major national security objective.
Further, for all of the rhetoric from the Republican Party about its foreign policy expertise, the reality in 2012 is that President Obama wound-down the controversial Iraq War and is trying to find some constructive end to the President Bush-initiated Afghanistan War - another controversial foreign policy initiative that is more than 10 years old, which has little prospect for a decisive American victory with a peace based on justice for Afghan citizens.
4 GOP Errors. After the most severe U.S. recession since the Great Depression, and the long period of high unemployment (plus 8 percent), all the party out of the White House, the Republican Party, had to do to win in 2012 was: 1) nominate a strong candidate and 2) talk about how the party would create jobs for the roughly 23 million Americans currently seeking full-time work who can't find it.
Instead, what did the Republican Party do? During the party's presidential primaries, it got bogged-down talking about repealing Obamacare, banning abortion (even restricting contraception), and about curtailing established civil rights for gays/lesbians, and opposing a raise in the debt ceiling. The party faithful ended up nominating former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney - a mid-quality candidate in a weak field, and a candidate whose flip-flopping on issues is only outdone by his lack of connection to the typical American's daily problems and concerns.
Even worse, Romney's campaign has been hampered by his secretiveness regarding his U.S. income tax reports - he won't release his last 10 years of IRS returns -- his work at Bain Capital, and by the proposed federal budget of his vice presidential running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Ryan's fiscal plan would radically change Medicare, eliminating the guarantee of health insurance for future senior citizens. In short, the Republican Party has done its best to alienate voters - it has nominated a mediocre candidate and kept the narrative on every issue except the one on which Obama is most vulnerable: jobs. The Obama campaign could not have crafted a better strategy for a GOP loss. The Republican Party's miscues in 2011 and 2012 have cost them millions of votes.
3 The U.S. economy. This factor is nuanced. The slow-growth U.S. economy with its high unemployment rate, 8.3 percent, is working against Obama - it will lower his vote total from the 2008 election. However, enough voters realize that as sluggish as the U.S. economy is, the economy would have been in much worse shape without fiscal stimulus and the many other steps the Obama administration took to limit job losses and public/social tragedies - including the intervention to save General Motors (NYSE: GM), the bank bailout, as well as the extrension of unemployment compensation and food stamps benefits to help Americans substantially hurt by the recession avert poverty.
The Republican Party's critique that 'Obama should be held accountable by voters because the stimulus didn't do enough to lower unemployment' is hollow. A considerable block of voters knows that their fate would have been worse if Congressional Republicans prevailed in their effort to block the stimulus; these voters also know the GOP opposed every Obama jobs plan, and as a result, these Americans will vote for Obama in large numbers, mitigating somewhat the loss of other voters, due to the sub-par economy.
2 'The Others.' There's an adage that argues, innocent error can lead to a mistake, but delusion can lead to catastrophe. In the summer of 1941, Nazi Germany Fuhrer Adolph Hitler was convinced that a quick, 4-month invasion of Russia would lead to Russia's defeat before winter proper set in, despite the bulk of evidence that indicated Hitler's analysis was flawed. Hitler refused to recognize the long-term factors of a war with Russia that would spell doom for the Third Reich.
To be sure, from an existential standpoint, the Republican Party's delusion in 2012 is not as bad as Hitler's in the fall 1941- winter 1942, but from an executive branch-winning standpoint, the Republican Party is not seeing the long-term trend regarding U.S. citizens who don't believe they have a stake in the U.S.'s current economic system. These voters - termed here "The Others" - are growing in number, and include many of the poor, working poor, lesser-skilled, senior citizens, disabled veterans/veterans, and others who believe that workers and typical persons currently do not receive an equitable distribution of the excess profits from their labor nor, in many cases, fair wages, among other concerns. "The Others" are also comprised of members of minority groups who have faced discrimination with regard to voting rights, immigration, education, and the justice system.
In 2008, Obama used an inclusive, reformist message and grassroots effort to win the support of "The Others" - a political effort that broadened his coalition beyond his base of working-class Americans, African-Americans, and liberal, college-educated middle-income adults.
As noted, the Republican Party's counter to Obama's coalition has been not merely an innocent error, but delusional: the GOP has offered almost nothing that will make most of "The Others" stakeholders in the U.S.'s current economic system - corporate capitalism, i.e. reforms that convince these alienated groups that "I can win and succeed, given how the U.S. economy is currently structured." On the contrary, the Republican Party's response to "The Others" has been flawed in premise and the stuff of fantasy: in many Republican-controlled state legislatures, the GOP has responded to the rise in social and political consciousness by "The Others" by seeking to increase barriers to voting and by restricting voter rights under the ruse of "voter fraud."
Most of these voter rights restrictions will be struck down by federal U.S. courts, which must guarantee the right of every citizen to vote, and the deeply flawed Republican tactic will provide sobering news for conservatives in 2012, 2016, and in future elections: the block of voters that comprise "The Others" is growing - it's a decidedly Democratic Party constituency - and it will put increasing pressure on the system for economic and social reform.
In other words, "The Others" helped Obama win in 2008, they will again in 2012, and absent platform moderation by the Republican Party, the constituency's political strength in the Democratic Party will continue to increase, and it will propel even bigger economic and social changes in 2016.
Further, the end of Obama's second term in 2016 will not cause the political claims of "The Others" to magically disappear.
1 The life of the nation. The previous four reasons will be factors in Obama's 2012 re-election, but this last one may contribute the most.
Beyond the life of the individual, beyond the life of the corporation, is the life of the nation. Many national-level, elected, public officials can represent the life of the individual and the life of the corporation, but only one can represent the life of the people, as a whole - the life of the nation. In the current age, President Barack Obama represents the life of the nation.
However, the life of nation does not always prevail in the United States in every era: there have been elections in which the will of the majority and the common good were thwarted by a presidential election. The tragic, assassination-filled presidential election year of 1968 and the disputed, controversial 2000 presidential election are two modern era examples. But as social forces build, the life of the nation reasserts itself - a new public official emerges to represent the life of the nation - and U.S. civilization advances.
President Obama is that public official. He represents not only individuals, and corporations, but "The Others."
To paraphrase the late, great New York Gov. Al Smith, in addition to the nation's commercial interests, President Obama represents "the poor, working poor, workers, women, families, children, senior citizens, veterans, students, young professionals, young couples, those with disabilities, immigrants, the marginalized, the injured, the hospitalized. Thank you. God bless you."