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The 2012 Election: A Clogged Toilet About to Overflow

A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Rick Perry with an eleven point lead over his closest rival for the Republican nomination, just days after the Texas governor declared his candidacy for president. Perry garnered 29 percent of the survey vote, compared to Romney's 18 and Bachmann's 13. Meanwhile, the newest Gallup poll shows Obama's approval rating to be at an all-time low: a pathetic 39 percent (53 percent disapproval)--and his advantage over the "Generic Republican" seems to be tightening.

Nevertheless, a sizable gap remains between Obama and each of the declared Republican candidates. Obama has run undefeated in the national polls pitting him against specific challengers for a month now, and no national poll has ever predicted a loss to Perry, Bachmann, Palin, Paul, Cain, Pawlenty, or Huntsman (although that may soon change if Perry's post-declaration spike continues). Only Romney and Gingrich have ever beaten the sitting president in such a poll. Notably, neither candidate has managed the duplicate the feat, and each won his respective survey by a single percentage point.

What does all of this mean? Polling this far out from an election is undoubtedly of questionable utility. However, the general trend of the data indicates that the mood of the country is somewhat analogous to the rising refuse of a clogged toilet. For the moment, there is nowhere to go--voters are unimpressed by the president's performance, but they are similarly underwhelmed by what they've seen and heard from the early Republican contenders. Instead, they stew and grow more frustrated by the day, their dissatisfaction threatening to spill over into a massive problem unless someone gets out the plunger and starts to work, fast. The quick and likely blind support for the newest entry, Perry, is demonstrative of Americans' starvation for a serious alternative.

In all likelihood, Perry will fail to quench that thirst. While the man certainly looks presidential on FoxNews, his gaffe potential appears to be high (just look at his recent unpresidential attack on Ben Bernanke), and his image and accent inevitably invoke comparison to another Texas presidential candidate--one whose reputation has yet to swing back into public favor (though some of this might help, what do you think?).

At this point, there are two important points to make:

1. Politicians should take note of the weaknesses of BOTH parties. The talking heads will undoubtedly overanalyze Democrats' issues in the coming months. As Perry (and perhaps Romney) surge in the polls and dissatisfaction with the president continues to grow, pundits will begin to dissect the Democratic party platform like scavengers picking at roadkill, and congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle will tailor their campaigns accordingly.

However, it would be highly remiss to ignore the fact that voter dissatisfaction this cycle clearly runs both ways. While conservatives may feel energized by candidates such as Bachmann and Perry, swing voters and moderates are more on the fence than perhaps they should be, given the serious instability of our government and economy. Recent polling consistently places Obama ahead of his primary opponents in all the major swing states, including Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Republicans are not doing well so far this election cycle, and to ignore the reasons why could cause serious problems for politicians and, by extention, Americans--if not in 2012, then in the two years and the election following.

2. One wrong move, and we could wind up spilling **** everywhere. We are faced with a growing number of options that simply do not feel right to the average voter. People are becoming so desperate for alternatives that they have begun to fling themselves blindly at politicians and movements they know next to nothing about, purely out of a desperate desire to get something--anything--accomplished. There is no decision more dangerous than that made by bare dissatisfaction. In a political system that already caters far too much to extremists on both sides, this is perhaps my biggest worry.
 

mmayer

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An excellent analogy, the one of the clogged toilet. It is true that while Americans are not happy with the present circumstances they find themselves in, they are not quite willing to board the crazy train. When one looks at the slate of the Republican Presidential hopefuls, one cannot help but come to the conclusion that this must be some type of joke. If these same candidates would have faced the nation even a decade ago, they would have been laughed off of the stage. Excellent piece.
 
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