Friday, February 10, 2012

Deep Sea Diving

Rick Santorum is a moved deck chair on the sinking Titanic that is this year's GOP.

And Ron Paul looks poised to do very well in the upcoming Maine caucuses.  Romney will, eventually, get the nomination after a much longer-than-expected struggle, but it looks like it will be a booby prize.  It took Obama a long time to lock up the nomination in 2008, but he as running an insurgent campaign against a heavy favorite and did not have the money advantage Romney has over his GOP opponents. This is clear: most Republicans don't like Romney and enthusiasm has become the most important factor in recent elections - 2006, 2008, 2010.  

This year is shaping up to be a bad one for Republicans.  Although the employment numbers are bad, particularly when the long-term unemployed are considered, the economic momentum for now is on Obama's side.  It's useful to remember that the national mood was gloomier and the economic picture was bleak when Richard Nixon cruised to re-election against George McGovern in 1972 and that the country had not yet climbed out of the 1982 recession when Reagan crushed Walter Mondale in 1984.  The actual numbers matter less than the public sense of where the job market is heading and I think an increasing number of Americans are still uncertain but very cautiously optimistic.

Against this backdrop, Republicans are making their task even harder.  Their putative frontrunner, Romney, can't shake the impression that he's completely inauthentic and and that he's pampered, robber baron Ritchie Rich.  Obama is vastly more likable.  The Republican nominee will have a very hard time carrying states with deeply unpopular Republican governors such as in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.  

Finally, the issues the Republicans are embracing, such as siding with the Catholic Bishops on the birth control requirement for health insurance, might work in an off-year election when the electorate is much smaller and vastly more conservative but only serves to reinforce for the bigger and more diverse pool of voters in a presidential election year that the Republican Party is a bastion of greed and religious zealotry.  Most Catholics don't agree with the church on this, and Mexican American Catholics are unlikely to vote for the GOP on this issue while the party remains committed to immigrant bashing.

I  think this could well be the fourth straight swing election.  My early take on 2012 is that Obama will win reelection, the Democrats will retain control of the Senate, and that the House will be recaptured by the Democrats.  It's only February, of course, and if the Greek, Italian and Portuguese debt crises trigger another recession all bets are off. If I'm right, the country's future will depend on whether Obama interprets the results as an expression of the 99 percent's anger at the 1 percent or an endorsement of his first-term's one-sided compromises with an intransigent GOP.

Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting analysis, Michael. The only piece I might quibble with is where you say "The Republican nominee will have a very hard time carrying states with deeply unpopular Republican governors such as in Michigan,..." I'm not sure of that because, as you also say, "[Mitt] Romney will, eventually, get the nomination..."

Yes, President Obama won Michigan rather handily in 2008. But he did so by turning out lopsided majorities in the heavily populated and industrialized areas -- his margin in Wayne County (Detroit) alone was more than half of his statewide margin. And, in that election, he wasn't opposed by a native son of Michigan who is also the son of a popular former governor of the state. Can the President win Michigan again this year? I think so, but I'm not sure it will be as easy as it was in 2008. In fact, I'm guessing it's likely to be a real struggle.

The greatest advantage I see for the President in Michigan, going in, is the outstanding success of the rescue of the US auto industry, as contrasted with Mitt Romney's recorded opposition to the rescue effort.