Posted by | December 9, 2011 11:03 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

I’ve been very confident about President Obama’s re-election chances for one simple reason.  I still do not see anyone in the Republican field that can beat him.  Governor Huntsman would have the best chance, but he has no chance at the nomination.  Governor Romney is next but his weaknesses are again coming to the fore.  The rest of the candidates (including Gingrich) will struggle mightily in the general election (President Obama could get as many as 400 electoral votes against most of them).  But then I read this from Rhodes Cook:

But next year, the arrangement of the primary calendar is much different. It is less condensed at the front, much more loaded with events at the back, with the prospect of a viable, late-starting candidate quite real.

This is not to say that it will happen, but simply to note that it could. Such a scenario could not have unfolded in 2008, when the early January events were followed in short order by an early February Super Tuesday vote-fest that involved nearly half the country.

But the elongated layout of the nominating calendar this time provides the opportunity for a late-starting candidate to emerge. Should Mitt Romney stumble badly in the January events in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, another establishment Republican could enter the race in early February and still compete directly in states with at least 1,200 of the 2,282 or so GOP delegates. Many of them will be up for grabs after April 1 when statewide winner-take-all is possible.

Similarly, should non-Romney alternatives led by Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry fall flat in the January contests, there would be time for the conservative wing of the party to find a new champion to carry its banner through the bulk of the primary season.

And Nate Silver agrees.  There are Republicans out there who would be very dangerous opponents for the president (this guy and this one).  None of them are in the field right now.  I’m praying it stays that way.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.