The 2012 United States Presidential Election when America is scheduled to pick a new president will take place on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. It will occur at the same time as elections to all seats in the House of Representatives and to one-third of seats in the Senate. Incumbent Democratic president Barack Obama is presumed to be seeking re-election in this election, although liberal President Lyndon Johnson did voluntarily decline to run for reelection after his poor showing the New Hampshire primary in 1968. A Republican candidate is expected to be elected.
As yet, no Republicans or Democratic challengers have declared their candidacy. The current GOP front-runners, however, are former governors Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, Governors Bobby Jindal and Tim Pawlenty, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. With Obama's declining popularity among independents, liberals, and moderates, Hillary Clinton's public approval ratings have gained.
Beginning in January 2011, candidates will signal publicly their intentions to run. Mitt Romney, for example, filed papers with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 3, 2007, in order to seek election as president in 2008. His early commitment is credited for his ability to far out-raise the other candidates, and to earn endorsements from conservatives such as Rick Santorum and Marsha Blackburn. Of course, intentions to run are communicated privately much earlier than the public filings, so many will be lining up support and potential endorsements throughout 2010 for the 2012 presidential election.
The key early primaries are Iowa (caucuses), New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina.
Four Segments of the Republican Party
There are four basic components of the Republican Party. To win the nomination, a candidate needs to obtain the support of at least two out of four:
- social conservatives (pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-Republican Party platform)
- libertarians (lower taxes, less government, pro-business, anti-union)
- religious voters (Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, evangelicals, Mormons)
- neoconservatives (foreign intervention, "better" government)
In 2008, John McCain won the nomination by capturing the support of 1 and 4 above. Ron Paul had the support of 2. Mitt Romney enjoyed support by 2 and part of 3. Mike Huckabee had support of 1 and part of 3. The division of 3 by Romney and Huckabee caused them to block either other: Huckabee blocked Romney in Iowa, and Romney returned the favor in New Hampshire. This dynamic prevented either from winning the nomination.
In 2000, George Bush won with the support of 1 and 3. But John McCain enjoyed the support from 2 and 4 and this enabled him to win the New Hampshire and Michigan primaries, giving Bush a close contest. Some felt McCain mishandled his victory in Michigan.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan had the support of 1 and 2.
Potential Republican Candidates for 2012
|Candidate||Pros||Cons||Fox News Exposure|
|Mitt Romney||First runner-up in 2008, business experience, Republican governor of a Democratic state, prodigious fundraiser||Once supported abortion and civil unions; his costly health care plan included mandatory insurance and became the model for ObamaCare; won only 15% in the South Carolina primary in 2008||Occasionally on Fox|
|Marco Rubio||A rising young star in Florida, a key swing state; an electrifying speaker||Will face liberal double standard: what's OK for Obama (e.g., inexperience) is somehow not OK for a conservative||On Fox in connection with Senate bid|
|Newt Gingrich||Articulate, credited with 1994 landslide, balanced the federal budget in the Clinton era, leader in fundraising||Takes not-so-conservative positions today, such as promoting a Con Con||Promoted by Fox|
|Rand Paul||heir-apparent to massive support for Ron Paul||needs to win the Kentucky U.S. Senate seat first||Sometimes on Fox|
|Jim Demint||strong support by social conservatives, libertarians, Tea Party, and evangelicals; a tenacious advocate willing to criticize Obama||a Southern conservative who will need to work hard to gain support in Iowa and New Hampshire, the key early primary states||Rarely appears on Fox|
|Sarah Palin||Empathetic, attracts crowds, pro-life, popular||Doubts whether she is a movement conservative; resigned early as governor; could be a stalking horse for Newt Gingrich; lags in fundraising despite publicity||Promoted by Fox|
|Michele Bachmann||A movement conservative who is popular in a Democratic region and with the Tea Party movement||As with Ronald Reagan, liberal bias is at its worst against her; she's said she's not running for president this soon||On Fox as she's in the news|
|Steve King||A conservative Iowa congressman who could win the Iowa caucuses; resonates well with independents; recommended by Bachmann||Not well known yet||Rarely allowed on Fox|
|Ken Cuccinelli||Has won statewide office||Effective critic of Obama||On Fox because he's been so newsworthy|
|Jeb Bush||More conservative than his brother George W. Bush, and popular in pivotal Florida; criticized Palin as a rival candidate might||Could be tagged with negatives via George, and may not attract Tea Party support; why not wait and defeat Hillary in 2016 or 2020?||Rarely appears on Fox|
|Todd Akin||A movement conservative from Missouri, which he serves as a congressman||Not well known yet||Rarely allowed on Fox`|
|John Thune||Defeated Tom Daschle, relatively conservative voting record for a senator; also taller than Obama||Lacks essential "fire in the belly"; voted for TARP financial bailout and McCain-Feingold campaign finance; no-show at some conservative events; hasn't effectively criticized Obama||Rarely allowed on Fox|
|Mike Huckabee||Pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and pro-Bible||Supported bigger government, released man who then killed officers||Promoted by Fox|
|Bob McDonnell||Won landslide election as Virginia governor; has Obama's height||Not widely known yet, but gave Republican response to State of the Union||Rarely allowed on Fox|
|Tim Pawlenty||Young; popular in his home state of Minnesota||Still not well known outside of Minnesota; accepted stimulus funds after arguing against them||Sometimes on Fox|
|Scott Brown||Proven ability to appeal to moderate voters even in blue states||Inexperience; already voting with the Democrats in the Senate||Has been on Fox|
|Rick Santorum||Outspoken supporter of conservative values as a senator, well-received by Iowan evangelicals at campaign-like event in March 2010||His all-out support of RINO and now-Democrat Arlen Specter prevented Pat Toomey from defeating him in 2002, and Santorum endorsed Romney for President in 2008; could simply be a stalking horse for Romney||Promoted on Fox|
|Rudy Giuliani||Widely respected for his post-9/11 leadership in New York City||Struck out completely as a candidate in 2008; very weak on important social issues; cross-dressing for comedic purposes when it suited him||Frequently on Fox|
|Dick Cheney||Prominent and consistent opposition to Obama||Of dubious health; has explicitly disavowed interest in running||Has been on Fox|
|Mitch Daniels||Rust Belt Governor, effective critic of the Obama administration||Unknown nationally||Rarely allowed on Fox|
Potential Democratic Candidates
|Evan Bayh||Democratic base sees Bayh's retirement from the Senate as "a symbol of what's wrong with the party" as moderates are increasingly marginalized. ||Lags behind Obama in fundraising. ||Has appeared on MSNBC|
|Hillary Clinton||Kennedy and Reid can't stop her now, and she would be 71 if she waited until 2016; highest approval ratings of any potential challenger.||Her feminism is not wanted and she'd lose as Martha Coakley did||Disfavored on MSNBC|
|Barack Obama||He's not Hillary Clinton, and he receives biased support from the media||He depends on a teleprompter to speak, and has run the nation into the ground||Heavily promoted on MSNBC|
- Peter Roff, A Hillary Clinton Primary Challenge to Obama in 2012?, USNews and World Report, January 27, 2010.
- Traditionally commentators have referred to the three legs of the Republican Party: the values voters, the small businessmen, and the national security supporters. While that model still has support, it fails to account for recent shifts (such as the Tea Party Movement) and the impact of new media (such as FoxNews).
- Jim Demint has the best favorable-unfavorable rating of anyone at CPAC 2010.
- In a Newsmax interview in February 2010, Jeb criticized Palin by saying, "my belief is in 2010 and 2012, public leaders need to have intellectual curiosity." 
- Evan Bayh For President? Senator May Be Eyeing White House Run, Ryan Grim, Huffington Post, 02-15-10.
- 58% View Hillary Clinton Favorably, January 19, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2010.