Before I begin, let me re-iterate what the title of this article pretty clearly states: These are early election predictions, based on today's political atmosphere, the left, right, and center fields, and the political and polling trends of recent times. It's more than likely that these predictions are going to change as we get into the 2012 campaign season, and no one can really say for certain what's going to happen tomorrow, let alone twelve months from now when the 2012 election season is in full-swing. I'm making these predictions with about 50% certainty, if that. Think of this article as little more than an early exercise in election analysis.
Eleven states have governorships up for grabs in the 2012 elections. Delaware, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Vermont are more than likely going to Democrats, while North Dakota and Utah will remain in GOP hands. Indiana, where a union fight has been boiling over, might flip to the Democrats, so long as they remind voters of the union battle. The other four States -- Montana, North Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia -- are too hazy to really guess, one way or the other.
With all 435 voting Congressional seat open again, we're going to see some interesting stuff happen in the 2012 House elections. The current House, with its right-wing majority, is working with an approval rating in the lower- to mid- twenties, which might sound more positive to Democrats than the number really is. Congress almost always works with approval ratings well below the 50% mark, since 1990 anyway, so it doesn't really say much about the election itself, as much as some pundits try to claim otherwise. What you really need to look at is the actions of the House itself, and so far, the GOP-led house hasn't been the most populist group we've seen. They've been very heavily pushing their anti-abortion legislation, with more than half of the country being pro-choice, and in the midst of a massive unemployment crisis, they haven't made a single motion toward job creation. With so many right-wing people in Congress supporting the union-smashing efforts of people like Governor Walker in Wisconsin, things aren't looking good for Republicans and Tea Partiers. 2012 isn't a midterm... people will actually show up to the 2012 elections, and if the conservatives in the House hope to keep their jobs in 2012, they need to spend less time on wedge issues and more time satisfying the needs and desires of their constituents. As it stands today, I'm predicting a majority, below super-majority status, for Democrats in 2012.
The Democrats have 23 Senate seats up, and 2 seats belonging to independents who caucus with Democrats. Meanwhile, Republicans only have 10 seats up for grabs. Right off the bat, this number sounds promising to Republicans, right? Not exactly. Most of the Democrat seats up for election are in places like New York and California, where incumbent Democrats are very strongly favored to keep their seats. Joe Lieberman is retiring, which leaves Connecticut up for grabs, and they too will most likely elect a Democrat. Looking at the full field, I'm going to estimate that 7 Democrat seats and 3 Republican seats are up for grabs, but with the recent radicalism on display in the past few months by the GOP and the Tea Partiers, those seats have a slightly blue hue. My early Senate prediction will see the Senate going 55/ 45 in favor of the Democrats.
The White House
And now we come to the million-dollar question, and the real reason so many voters are going to show up in 2012. Even this early on, the White House is the easiest election to predict, and it's going to take some major nation-changing events to shake up this race's outcome. President Obama, with sturdy polling numbers safely in the range of Presidential averages and no real electoral threats on the opposite field, is the clear, smart-money pick for the 2012 Presidential election. Campaigning tends to improve a President's approval ratings, and the winner of the GOP primary and their VP pick are going to play a substantial role in determining just how high those approval ratings will go. The more radical the GOP pick is, the higher President Obama's approval ratings will get. His numbers should be around 53% to 63% by June of next year. If the GOP picks a radical, those numbers could go as high as 74% or 75% if someone like Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin is on the ticket.
This is where the GOP, thanks in large part to the Tea Party, have found themselves painted into a corner. If they run a moderate, level-headed, responsible candidate, which will be nearly impossible for them to even find, they'll appeal to the moderates who really decide elections, but they'll lose their right-wing base, which would donate the most trail money and would otherwise give the GOP candidate a firm ground. The alternative is far uglier, though... appeal to the right-wing base, but scare off the moderates, and get clobbered in the election, which is exactly what happened to them in the 2008 elections. The 2012 Presidential Election is a lose-lose situation for Republicans, and the Tea Party is doing more damage than they appear to realize. After the 2008 elections, the GOP had a great opportunity to move toward the center and flush out all of the wackos, but they decided to go in the exact opposite direction. That's great when you want to win mid-terms. Not so much in Presidential elections.
The GOP will also be facing the Third Party Quagmire. If Ron Paul runs as a Republican, he won't win the nomination, because he isn't radical enough for the right-wing base. If he runs third party, he's radical enough to scare off moderate voters, and he'll end up splitting the GOP vote enough to give them a more thorough trouncing. Democrats learned their lesson in the 2000 elections, which is why Ralph Nader and other third party liberal candidates won't even register as a tiny aftershock in the 2012 Presidential election. The GOP, on the other hand, is facing a significant quake.
Early Prediction Summary
The 2012 elections are looking early on to slightly favor Democrats, but if they win, the outcomes of the 2014 and 2016 elections are going to very heavily depend on what the Democrats actually do with their power. If they cave to conservatives and fail to organize on a solid platform, showing yet again that they're incapable of pushing the same agenda in the same direction, they're going to lose very heavily in 2014, and worse still in 2016. If Democrats can properly unite, legislate moderately, and take up true progressive causes again, the GOP will end up imploding, but with the track record of Democrats in recent years, that's looking unlikely. If they win, they need to do something with it, because if they waste it again, the future is going to look very, very bleak.
It's looking as though the GOP and Tea Party have absolutely no idea just how bad the problems they're causing are going to be. Unions, abortions, arrogantly demanding things with a "my way or the highway" tone... this is all going to spell disaster for the right, not that you'll get many complaints from this columnist. My advice to the GOP and Tea Party? Watch this video, because that's about as prepared as you can get for how the 2012 elections are going to play out.