Four years ago, I made a prediction about the 2008 presidential election. Boy, was I wrong. Four years later–with no President Giuliani after all–I am ready to read the tea leaves again and venture a guess about next year’s presidential election. This time, however, I will try to be more humble in my guesses.
Despite some rumblings from the Left, President Obama will not face a primary challenger from his own party (except for possibly a fringe candidate like Dennis Kucinich). Obama will raise lots of money for his campaign, and he will run–or at least his operatives will run–a Chicago-style, break-your-opponents’-legs campaign. But even if he raises a billion dollars (as promised) it probably won’t be enough to sufficiently move the needle in his direction.
On the Republican side, we are already starting to see the dynamics emerge: Rick Perry (who coincidentally endorsed Rudy four years ago!) looks like he will win his party’s nomination. Polls show he’s already ahead in Iowa and South Carolina, and if he wins those states’ primary/caucus, he will have the momentum to clinch the nomination. Mitt Romney will be shut out again. Sarah Palin will not even get into the race, by the way.
Perry will probably choose a likable, youngish, Washington outsider for his vice presidential running mate who can be groomed into the presidency (contra George W. Bush/Dick Cheney and Barack Obama/Joe Biden). My bet is he will try to shed the GOP stereotype and avoid tapping another white male for the ticket. The VP slot might go to Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, Susana Martinez, or Marco Rubio. Apologies to Tim Pawlenty and Paul Ryan. I do not think Michele Bachmann will have a place in a Perry administration (maybe attorney general???).
And despite the angry Left’s contempt for Rick Perry, he will be a formidable candidate against President Obama. They underestimate his political operation, his skills, his positive record, and his appeal to independents disaffected with the current president. In fact, this is my prediction: President Obama will continue to flail throughout 2012, giving up on governing and focusing on campaigning; he will run a mudslinging campaign against Governor Perry, but it won’t be enough. We will inaugurate President Perry in January of 2013.
FOOTNOTE: It’s also a safe bet that Republicans will take control of the Senate and hold the House, giving them control over the Legislative and Executive branches of the federal government. Whether that’s a blessing or curse remains to be seen, however; just ask Mr. Obama about having a friendly Congress and how well that has served him!