A lot can happen between now and Election Day. From foreign policy to health insurance premiums, here's what might help a Republican win.
Democrats are more confident about President Obama's chances for reelection than at any point since the economy bottomed out in the summer of 2009. Arguments used to batter him, like his inability to make a decision on a tough issue, have been neutralized by the daring raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
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None of Obama's potential opponents have made any particularly bold moves, save Tim Pawlenty's promise to wean Iowa off of ethanol subsidies. Mitt Romney fell on the grenade representing his support for an individual mandate in Massachusetts early in the campaign, alienating the conservative intelligentsia in the process.
And though Republicans forced the president to cut spending, they're not reaping any political benefit, thanks to a stiletto-knife-to-Medicare budget that all but four GOP House members signed on to as their own.
But political advantages are relative. No one, least of which his own staff, expects Obama to win by 10 million votes again. He has proved too polarizing--or incapable of extracting himself from the trap of polarization that afflicts all modern presidents. That means we're in for, at most, an election where the losing candidate grosses more than 60 million votes. We think of game-changers as major events: one-time, snap-like, existential interjections that swing millions. But game-changers are better described as concentrated periods of political evolution with demographic slices of the electorate. Or they can be filters--constraints--that screen potential ballot casters with certain allegiances from the voting pool. Most can't be predicted.