Online sports books are giving odds on who is going to win next year’s presidential election. According to most books including the Bovada Sports book (one of the leading online books) President Obama is currently the heavy odds-on favorite at 5/6 (in other words you have to bet $120 to win $100). Mitt Romney is running in second place at 2/1 (bet $100 to win $200).
It’s no real surprise that the President is the chalk favorite in this presidential horse race for the following reasons:
1. First and foremost, President Obama is the incumbent and unlike his predecessor George W Bush, he sounds and looks presidential and is very adept at using the bully pulpit to his advantage. Since the end of World War II three incumbent presidents were turned out of office–Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. George W. Bush survived a very close call.
2. The most overriding concern for the president is the economy. That said, most Americans understand the very difficult hand he was dealt coming into office and are will be willing to give him more time to fix the economy because they see some improvement, albeit slow. Moreover, a number of factors suggest the economy will continue to trend upwards next year. Prominent economics groups say the economy is growing three to four times as quick as it was early in the year, at an annual pace of about 3.7%.(albeit, some of the current strength is seasonal but economists still expect growth in the first half of 2012 at a minimum pace of about 2% percent and even stronger if lawmakers extend the unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut for a year). Economists at JPMorgan said growth in the current quarter was tracking close to 3% annually after expanding at 2.5% in the third quarter. Also, initial claims for jobless benefits, often an early indicator of where the labor market is headed, have dropped to their lowest level since May 2008 and the likelihood that the unemployment rate declines to something closer to 8% is pretty good. That should make the case President Obama avoided the abyss and turned things around in much the same way that Ronald Reagan did in ‘84.
3. President Obama is still well-liked by most Americans and is seen as trying hard to do the right thing.
4. The GOP field is WEAK – we’re not talking Reagan or even George W. Bush here. As a group the field is too anti-poor, anti-middle class, anti-union, and anti-immigrant. Individually they’re too corporate and not conservative enough, too old and cranky with too much baggage, or just too far to the right. If you need evidence, look at how desperately the Republican establishment is at looking for alternatives. Also, there is always the possibility of a third party candidate entering the race (Trump?) to split the vote.
5. Can’t attack President Obama on foreign policy given his success with bin Laden, Al Awlaki, Qaddafi, bringing the troops home from Iraq like he said he would, and restoring our international reputation after eight years of Bush.
6. We haven’t even gotten to the debates yet between the president and the GOP nominee but the President is polling slightly favorably against Romney and is polling comfortably ahead of the rest of the GOP field. Moreover, anyone of these GOP candidates will have a very difficult time holding their own against the very intelligent, well-prepared, very well-liked and charismatic president.
7. The GOP is stuck with the Tea Party fringe whose extreme elements and policies are way out of touch with most of America. They are basically viewed as obstructionists who fight for tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires, big oil and the big corporations. It’s actually remarkable that corporate America (Koch’s. etc.) has been able to take a segment of the population that is frustrated and angry at the current economy – with some racists in the mix- and have been able to get them to root against their own self-interests. The Tea Party generated fiasco on the 60-day bill to extend the payroll tax holiday was probably the last straw sealing the fate of a Tea Party whose legacy will be nothing short of political charades and dysfunctional gridlock.
As of right now the odds-on favorite to be the next president of the U.S. is President Obama. Can circumstances change in eleven months? Yes. Will they? Unlikely and for the long-term sake of the country, hopefully not.