While the republicans tear at themselves with bloody claws and fangs normally found only on vampires it is easy for the democratic faithful to feel good about the general election. After all, the republicans seem hopelessy fragmented. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are doomed and Santorum is out there on the fringe. Romney seems completely unacceptable to much of his own party and despite spending untold millions still can't put the other three goofs away. Well, at least he hasn't yet.
The economy is in a slow, but steady recovery right now and Obama's approval ratings are on the rise. Democrats seem on the verge of doing their happy dance. All is well. Victory in November is assured.
Not quite yet.
The recovery is fragile at best. A prolonged and severe spike in fuel prices could bring it to a screeching halt, not to mention shift attention toward an energy policy that can at best be described as cerebrally vague. That green tint you see on it might be fine for your average environmentalist, but Walt, the assistant sporting goods manager at Target isn't going to give a rats ass about the environment when he is paying $5 a gallon for gas. And he isn't going to blame the oilies. No, he is going to blame the guy in charge.
Then there is the prospect of all out war between Israel and Iran which could plunge the entire middle east into a conflagration the likes of which haven't been seen since 1941. Obama is walking a very fine line. If the Israelis think for a minute he hasn't got the situation under control all hell will break loose. The war in Iraq will seem like nothing more than a name calling contest compared to what would happen in the worst case scenario.
Beyond all that there is a geographic numbers problem for the president. Four years ago he won 27 states and the District of Columbia. Among the 27 were all five New England states. Assuming Romney will at some point put the Santorum nonsense to rest, he is going to be a much stronger candidate than McCain could ever be in the northeast. He served as governor there and it has been his back yard for years. In addition Obama won Michigan, which is the de facto home state of Romney and Nevada which has a large Mormon population. The president also won New Jersey which now has a powerful republican governor, Chris Christie who is in Romney's pocket.
Does anyone else see how this might go? Those tea party rubes in places like South Carolina and Oklahoma might not vote for Romney in March, but they damn sure aren't going to vote for Obama this fall, or any fall. Outside of Florida, the only southern state Obama won four years ago was North Carolina and that was by the barest of margins.
It isn't that far fetched to envision Romney winning Massachusetts and a couple of other New England states, then winning in New Jersey, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and perhaps Indiana. It is outright science fiction to think Obama is going to win Texas or practically any of the other places he didn't carry four years ago.
No, after all this republican infighting, they'll kiss and make up, or at least stop slashing at each other and look toward the common foe. Democrats can't count on Romney to utterly screw the pooch when he chooses a running mate like McCain did. Complete idiots like Sarah Palin come along only once every generation or so.
This thing is going to be close and whoever the republican nominee is, he will have more money than God available to him for the campaign.
Everyone on the left needs to take a deep breath. It is winnable, certainly, but don't ever believe it is going to be easy.