The GOP presidential field is beginning to take shape, and it has all the warmth and attraction of a jello-mold. This sad fact tells us nothing about President Obama’s political vulnerability: He is incredibly vulnerable. Like all presidents, Obama’s re-election chances hinge largely on the economy and even as the recovery gains steam, most economists are not predicting the kind of increase in employment in the next year that would turn Obama’s campaign in 2012 into a repeat of Reagan’s 1984 “It’s morning in America” campaign.
Furthermore, Obama does not have until November 2012 to bring down the unemployment rate. People’s sense of the economy has a lag time, as George H.W. Bush found out in 1992. Even though the economy really was rebounding by election day, people’s views of the state of the economy start hardening in February and by the end of March, barring a catastrophe, those views are set. Certainly, filing income taxes is always a cold shower for every family, inviting them to take off any rose-colored glasses when assessing their economic status.