Richard Brodsky, columnist for The Capital, has offered his prediction for how the 2012 campaign will play out and the likely results. According to Brodsky, Perry will be the Republican nominee, Carly Fiorina will be his running mate, and Obama will win…barely. Here is what Brodsky says we will see happen over the next year.
For Republicans, the next three months will be dominated by candidates slashing at each other as the truly weird ones disappear. Sarah Palin will run if Michele Bachmann self-destructs, and maybe even if she doesn’t. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry will be widely viewed as the front-runners, but there will be room for third or fourth candidacies. Every GOP candidate will embrace the same ideas—a hard, hard right-wing catechism. Their personalities will be all that distinguishes them.
Both Perry and Romney will make mistakes, but Perry will look better, more in control, fiercer. It will be close, but Perry will win enough delegates to go into the Republican Convention with either a slight majority or a heavy enough plurality to force the establishment to roll over. (Remember, disappointed Romney people are more likely to support the other guy than disappointed Perry people.) Perry picks Carly Fiorina as his running mate as a jobs-economy-gender gesture.
Back in the White House, Obama will finally abandon his supercool, I’m-the-grown-up persona and begin a focused attack on Republicans. He will define them as Tea Party right-wing crazies who do the bidding only of the rich. His intensely negative message will focus on Social Security and women’s issues, leaving behind “The Audacity of Hope” for “The Necessity of Fear.”
Obama’s legislative proposals will go nowhere, but his poll numbers will improve enough to keep any other Democrat—a Clinton, for instance—from emerging as a savior. Most of the discussion in the party will be about replacing Biden, which won’t happen.
Three weeks before the election, Obama will switch to a positive message just as the economy shows a small but measurable improvement. He will abandon any pretense of a national campaign and focus on 25 or so states that get him to 271 electoral votes. It comes down to Michigan, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, Montana and Iowa. Obama stays alive because of Hispanic votes in California, Colorado and Arizona, where Republicans realize too late that their immigration politics have hurt them.
Election Day comes with Obama down three points in the national polls. He ends up with 48% of the popular vote, 273 electoral votes and no mandate to govern.
Plausible? Is Brodsky right? Why not. Could happen but only if Perry gets and accepts some heavy coaching to get him ready for prime time. Wait, see and hope that Obama pulls it off, particularly if the alternative is another governor from Texas.