A friend of mine used to have a saying to the effect that he’d rather be lucky than smart. While I think President Obama is pretty darn smart, if current trends continue, he may also prove to be very, very lucky.
Conventional wisdom–which is conventional because it tends to be right fairly often–is that Presidents presiding over poor economies have a hard time getting re-elected. Ordinarily, then, even a President who didn’t have a lot of people who already hated him for the color of his skin would be in trouble in 2012. But the Republicans, bless them, are helping him out.
The GOP field–filled with embarrassingly retrograde candidates–is one thing. These are mostly people who would have trouble running for City Council in normal times, and they have even some reliable Republican voters wincing. Those voters may not switch in November–but they also may not vote.
But if Obama is REALLY lucky, here’s the scenario: Gingrich wins the nomination, and Ron Paul runs as an independent. As conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has pointed out, no one thinks Gingrich can win the general election. He’s an unstable megalomaniac, without the discipline to run a sustained campaign. And Ron Paul–who will not run again for his House seat–has sent signals that suggest he’s contemplating a third-party run. He’s done it before, and he has the donors and volunteers to sustain such a candidacy. None other but George Will speculated that Paul would pull 80% of his votes from the eventual GOP candidate.
Paul could be a spoiler if the candidate is Mitt. If the candidate is Gingrich, Obama will have quite a mandate.
Hard to believe that anyone could be THAT lucky, but you never know.