Wednesday, 4 January 2012

After Iowa - what are the odds on the President's re-election now?

So it'll probably be 'Mitt Romney for President' (above). He'll face some weeks of continued slog. He'll have to fight a more consolidated and perhaps desperate hard-right conservative field if some of his more extermist opponents drop out. But after his squeakingly tight victory in yesterday's Iowa Caucus, and in all probability his walkover in the forthcoming New Hampshire contest, he's probably going to get over the line.

Not that this will necessarily carry him all the way to the big prize. Many grassroots conservatives can't stand him, and the Republicans are (for now) more divided than ever. Romney will face a fight if he wants to break away from the pack.

The economy does now also seem to be picking up - albeit gradually. This - along with Obama's constant attacks on 'do nothing' Congressional Republicans - appear to be helping. His approval ratings have been gradually moving back northwards, and he is at less than minus one per cent (approval minus disapproval) to about five percent, depending on who you choose to believe.

It's very difficult to unseat an elected American President. It's only happened twice via election since the Second World War - when President Carter was ousted in 1980, and when President George Bush Senior was defeated by Bill Clinton in 1992. The present incumbent of the White House doesn't quite feel like one of those one-term leaders.

Put it all together, and it's no wonder that betting markets have President Obama at about 51-52% to be re-elected. Punters overwhelmingly think he'll do it if asked a straight yes/ no question. I'd put the likelihood of an Obama re-election a shade higher than 51% (at perhaps 55%, up from where we were just a few weeks ago) and, all in all, it's Democrats who'll be smiling a bit more convincingly this morning than Republicans.

What does it mean for the rest of us? Unless the Democrats can re-capture the House of Representatives, and it's unlikely, another four years with virtually no progress, no legislation and not too much leadership in Washington.

So we're on our own. But you already knew that, right?

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