The 2012 presidential election promises to be both exciting and historical. It took on a historical nature in 2008 when Barack Obama became the first African American president of the United States, and can be even more momentous this year if he wins a second term. It is very rare for a president to be re-elected in a bad economy and Republican members of Congress have done many things that have hindered a full economic recovery, with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnel admitting that the party's main focus is to make sure the president does not get a second term in office. However, at the start of 2012, unemployment numbers were down and Wall Street numbers were up, as were the president's approval numbers.
None of this means he has an easy road ahead of him to 2012 win. He has a Republican base vehemently against him and anything he tries to do, not always comprehending his policies. Early polls show he would be neck and neck if the election was held now with Mitt Romney, who many feel will eventually get the Republican nomination. But, Romney is not well-liked by many Republicans who have not been turning out in droves to Republican primaries and caucuses the way they did in 2008. And he is also not winning as many states as he would have liked. In early February, Rick Santorum jumped ahead of him in polls, but he is not moderate enough to attract independent voters away from Obama in November. In an effort to beat Santorum, Romney has been moving his speeches and ideas more to the right, which would take moderate voters away from him as well. The other two Republicans running in the primary race are not thought to have much of a chance at the nomination. Ron Paul has libertarian leanings that are not mainstream enough and many people do not like Newt Gingrich and remember his scandal in the 1990s when he had to step down as Speaker of the House after leading the impeachment hearings of President Bill Clinton. His reputation has also been soiled by his various affairs and some see him as a hypocrite for going after Clinton for the same thing. However, he does have a loyal following and won big at the South Carolina primary in January.
The Republican primary season looks as if it might go down to wire all the way until the party's convention in August and until he knows exactly who he will be running against, President Obama cannot begin a full-out campaign in earnest. While things do look like they may be on the incumbent president's side, anything can happen between now and November. Many never expected Barack Obama to beat the more experienced and mainstream John McCain, but he defied the odds and did. This is American politics, which has always been full of surprises and most likely always will be, so the 2012 presidential election is still anyone's race and anyone's game.