As we approach the summer of 2011 we also approach another presidential election. As with sports it is way too early to predict who will win the next presidential election but I am going to anyways.
Looking at the current crop of maybe-so's in the Republican field, which include; Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and so on it is extremely hard to handicap who will win their party's nomination.
Looking at the Democratic side we only have President Obama that has made a commitment to run (he has already announced and set up his campaign arm). No other Democrat has even suggested that they may run for the party's nomination. Hillary Clinton has already said that she has no plans to run for President. I'm not so sure about that. She has already said that she will not serve a second term as Secretary of State (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/16/clinton-running-for-president/) and for me that is a clear indication that she is, at the very least, considering a run for the Democratic nomination. After all she is a politician (and let's face it, politicians love to say one thing when they mean they other) and more importantly, for this discussion she is a Clinton.
What I mean by that, is that when Bill Clinton was running for another term as Arkansas governor in 1989 he signed a pledge that he would not run for President as governor. He won another term as governor, then ran for President.
Let us say, just for arguments sake, that Hillary does run against Obama for the Democratic nomination. She has a real chance to beat Obama. In 2008, it came down to the convention before it was fully settled that Obama would be the nominee. Her popularity has continually gone up since 2008, she has the name and face recognition. I do believe, though, that Obama will still win the nomination. The only group of Democrats does not have wide support from is from Liberals but he does have enough to secure the nomination. This alone may keep Hillary from running against Obama.
On the Republican side it is literally a meat market. Not one candidate that is considering a run has wide support. The candidates that are known have a favorability issue. Right now, they are all playing solely to the base of the Republican Party. That will serve them well in the primaries (where the base typically comes out en masse to vote) but it will cause them massive headaches and problems for the general election when they are forced to at least move back close to the center.
Out of the group above, Mitt Romney has the best shot at beating Obama in a potential campaign. Out of the group he seems to have the most centrist views and that would serve him well in a general election. He will not, however, win the nomination. Donald Trump will also not win the nomination, he is just the flavor of the month and he has already shown that he does not have a clear grasp of constitutional matters. He believes that the Constitution does in fact give people the right to privacy but he does not understand that the decision in Roe v. Wade guaranteed that. Out of the group listed above I believe that Mike Huckabee probably stands the best chance of winning the Republican nomination. He has the name and face recognition and he continually plays to the base of the Republican Party. The nomination process for the Republican Party is going to be nasty and ugly, that's a promise,
So, what is my prediction for the 2012 Presidential election? Barack Obama will win a second term. This election season already reminds me of the 2004 Presidential election. That year President Bush was fighting to win a second term, he poll numbers were suffering and he was ripe for a defeat. The problem was that the Democratic Party truly did not have a stand out candidate that people could stand behind. We are seeing the exact set of circumstances for the 2012 election. Unless a Republican really stands out and distinguishes him (or her) self from the rest of the field it should be a relative cake walk for President Obama.