Barack Obama’s And Sarah Palin’s Effect On The Republican Presidential Race

Here it is mid February, less than a year to the Iowa caucuses, and not one Republican has announced for President.

Instead, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence has announced that he will NOT run, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has indicated that while he will not run in 2012, he is leaving the door open for 2016.

Why is no one announcing?

Well, it may be that many potential candidates see a race against President Obama as a difficult one, which indeed it will be. While the Republicans gained 63 seats in the House of Representatives in 2010, that is no indication that they have an edge in the Presidential race, and the fact that they control the House makes the President able to use them as a foil, and Obama is certain, eventually, to attack the Republicans on domestic policy, and to use foreign policy as a bulwark for his campaign for re-election. It should not be surprising that Jeb Bush prefers to wait to 2016 when there would be an open race without an incumbent, if one assumes Obama has the edge for 2012.

Remember that Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bill Clinton won re-election despite BOTH houses being in the hands of the opposition party in the midterm election!

But also, the uncertainty about Sarah Palin, whether she will run, also muddies up the race.

Palin is looking weak in the polls, and it is hard to imagine she will give up the money making opportunities she now has to run, with the knowledge her earnings would be badly hit while she is a candidate for the White House. But she has just hired a top campaign strategist, and feels a need to react to every slight or criticism of her, including recent ones by fellow Republicans Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum and John Thune. Since they are not leading candidates at this point, they have decided to gamble on light criticism or teasing of Palin, but others seen as more serious candidates, including Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, have, so far, avoided such criticism.

But Palin is the so called “800 pound elephant” in the room, and that, along with Obama’s growing strength and the feeling that he has an edge for re-election, is contributing to the fact that candidates so far are reluctant to stick their necks out and announce they are running.

Still, within the next three months, it will be necessary for candidates to announce themselves, in order to have a realistic chance to gain support and financial backing, so whether Obama looks as strong as he does now, or Palin stays out or comes into the race, the die is cast in the sense that announcement of candidacies can only be delayed so far without being seen as no longer serious contenders!

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