The most important factor influencing who wins the presidency in 2012 is the economy. If the economy is showing improvement, then Obama wins. If the economy has double dipped into another recession, things look bad for Obama. And if the economy is similar to today’s, limping along in a slow recovery, then it will be a close race.
There is another factor that in certain scenarios is more important than the economy. That factor is where the voters lay the blame if the economy is poor.
I have read a lot about Obama’s (and the Democrats) poor messaging and positioning. But we have arrived at a point where Obama has managed to be on the correct side of the messaging and positioning.
The Republicans are holding the economy hostage. They refuse to raise the debt ceiling unless it is accompanied with huge amounts of spending cuts and no increases in revenue. The problem for the Republicans is that they are using the language of a hostage taker. Obama initially asked for a clean bill, but quickly “caved” and entered negotiations. Since then, it is the Republicans who have repeatedly insisted that it is their way or the economy gets it.
If Obama had stuck to his guns for a clean bill, he would have been just as much a hostage taker as the Republicans. He did not and the Republicans are now looking at the possibility of taking the blame for a bad economy.