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2012: Bush-Dukakis Redux?

In a recent Weekly Standard piece, Jay Cost argues that without strong support from independents, Barack Obama has no chance of victory. The problem for the president is that his standing with independents has dropped 17 percentage points since Election Day 2008 (from 52 percent to 35 percent in the most recent Gallup poll). Here’s why that’s a frightening political fact for Obama and his team:

If 2012 turns out to be a good Republican year, then we might see a partisan spread similar to 2004, when the two parties were evenly matched among the electorate. If we do indeed find that kind of result, and the president wins just 35 percent of the independent vote, next year will be a blowout, the likes of which we have not seen in nearly a quarter century. The Republican candidate would win a 10-point nationwide victory, and pull in close to 400 electoral votes.

What we would be looking at, in other words, is a Bush-Dukakis redux (Bush won 40 states, 426 electoral votes, and by 7.7 percentage points). That gives you a sense of just how steep the hill is the president has to climb, a year and two weeks away from Election Day 2012.