By Ria Novosti
By Andrei Fedyashin
Barack Obama announced his decision to run for a second term on April 4, nearly 19 months before the 2012 elections. He did it in a low-key manner through social media, email and text messages to his supporters. His campaign released a two-minute video featuring Americans talking about why they want Obama for four more years.
It was a gentle reminder to American voters that he needs their vote. As in 2008, the 44th U.S. president intends to actively use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to rally public support. Obama does not expect to win a sweeping victory like in 2008, but he clearly hopes that he can harness the power of the Internet once again to mobilize voters.
The biggest boost to his campaign would be the continuation of the nascent economic recovery, but Obama is being careful not to tout his administration’s success on the economic front while the situation is still so volatile. He will need something more to propel his election campaign forward.
Give him a chance
Launching his re-election campaign electronically is in keeping with the likely themes of his campaign: innovation, economic modernization, education, reducing gas and energy prices, and creating jobs.
Presidential candidates in Russia will likely highlight the same priorities, although Russians do not yet know who will run in 2012. But Russian candidates should keep an eye on Obama’s campaign to see if they can adopt some of his tactics.
After all, even gas prices are similar in the two countries. As of April 4, Regular cost $3.50-$3.60 per gallon in the United States, which is comparable to the 26.50-27.50 rubles per liter of A-95 in Russia. Keep in mind, though, that wages in Russia are much lower.
While Obama’s road to the White House in 2012 will not be easy, it will not be a grueling cross-country road that is all bumps and potholes either.
Americans usually give their presidents a second chance to fulfill the election promises from their first campaign. Since 1900, fourteen U.S. presidents have been re-elected for a second term, with only four one-termers.
There is little point in trying to predict election results 19 months out, particularly given the economic uncertainty. At the start of the previous election cycle in early 2007, Americans were sure their next president would be either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Rudolph Giuliani. No one suspected America would elect its first African-American president.
Clinton, who is now Obama’s secretary of state, has said she will not challenge him for the Democratic nomination, which greatly simplifies things for Obama.
Who will help Obama this time?
As important as it is for Obama to get Americans to vote for him, it is equally important to get Americans to vote against the other guy (or gal). John McCain, a long-serving Republican senator, who was 72 on Election Day in 2008, turned voters off. But Barack’s biggest “supporter” was the incumbent Republican president, George W. Bush, whose abysmal approval ratings at the time of the election all but assured a Democratic victory.
The circumstances have not changed much since then. The likely Republican contenders for 2012 are younger than McCain was, ranging from 47 to 67. But that’s pretty much the only thing going for them. Most of them don’t have a charismatic bone in their body.
None of the potential Republican challengers have officially announced their candidacy yet, although all of them have dropped hints. The frontrunners for the Republican nomination are former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (aged 64), former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (50), former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (67), and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (47).
Mrs. Palin has the most star quality, but her legendary inability to think before speaking has gotten her intro trouble both with the party bosses and the American public. She already has a strong base of support on the right wing, but Republican strategists fear that her gaffes will ultimately scare off potential voters.
Given the current crop of GOP contenders, you have to say that Obama stands a good chance in 2012. According to the latest polls, Obama has a roughly 48% approval rating. These are not great numbers, but when respondents are asked to choose between Obama and any of the likely Republican candidates, his margin goes way up.
Obama’s $1 billion bid
Obama already has a big fundraising edge because he is the first to officially throw his hat into the race. This may discourage some potential rivals from even trying to compete.
His campaign is expected to raise an unprecedented $1 billion. The six candidates in 2008 spent a combined $1.644 billion on their election campaigns. Obama raised a record $745 million and spent $513.5 million, while McCain spent $347 million.
This breaks down to $7.39 per vote for Obama and $5.78 per vote for McCain. You can expect much higher figures in the 2012 race.
Obama promised to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq during his first campaign, and he has started to make good on that promise. But the Libyan operation could hurt him.
Left-wing Democrats believe he has gone too far by supporting the bombing of Libya and the overthrow of the head of a sovereign state. We have had enough of that in Afghanistan and Iraq, they say. But right-wing Democrats believe you should finish what you start.
The 2012 election campaign is underway in America, and Obama stands a fair chance. If re-elected, he may keep Joe Biden as vice president and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, which means U.S. foreign policy will not change much. Hillary may even bring a new reset button to Moscow. We could certainly use one.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.