It is only January 2011 yet, but the speculations about possible candidates for the Republican nomination for US President have been going on for a while already, and most of the Republican politicians will publically announce their candidature during the winter and spring. The election will take place on 6 November 2012, by the way. It will as always be a long and exhausting campaign.
The Norwegian-based Monticello Society, which I am a member of, is perhaps the best place for Norwegians to find information and facts about US American politics and campaigns.(*) The purpose of the Monticello Society is to study the history, society, politics and culture of the USA, to work to enhance Norwegian's knowledge and understanding of American affairs and to oppose anti-American attitudes, particularly in the Norwegian media. Each year the society hosts the Reagan Conference and arranges members meetings with US politics and society on the agenda. The society's president Jan Henrik Gilhuus and vice president Jan Arild Snoen are among the leading experts on US American politics and campaigns here in Norway and are often consulted by the media.
Today it was announced that the society's 2012 election pages had been created. It aims to cover the nominations and campaigns for president, Senate, House of Representatives as well as the elections on state level. Besides the presidential election, 33 senate races as well as House of Representatives elections and 11 elections for Governor will take place. Exciting as always!
I have followed US politics and campaigns with great interest since I was a teenager, and have set a goal to read a (serious) biography of every US president, as well as books on other central politicians past & present. During the last few years I gather that I have read far more books about US politicians than about royals. In other words, I am really looking forward to the elections in 2012!
It is far too early - at least for me - to make serious predictions. It is not difficult, however, to say with almost certainty that President Barack Obama will win the nomination for the Democrats. The only elected Democratic President to have lost the nomination was Franklin Pierce in 1856, and I don't think that Obama will be seriously challenged within his own party. The midterm elections in 2010 turned out to be a disaster for the Democrats, so Obama will have tough job ahead of him in order to be re-elected. But it is still a long time until 6 November 2012. If the financial situation improves, it will improve his chances. Democratic presidents who run as a moderate but rule as a liberal will often end up in trouble, as Carter experienced in 1980. Obama has to move to the center to win back his supporters from 2008.
The campaign to win the nomination for the Republicans will of course be far more exciting, and it is still a very open race, among the reasons why I follow so many Republican politicians on Twitter. Many would maintain that the Republicans tend to nominate the candidate who is regarded to be "next in line", and this time it is Mitt Romney's turn. Personally I am not too excited about his candidature, and he seems a bit "yesterday news" to me, but I will probably be wrong. The last poll shows that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is in the lead, but as of today both would lose to Obama (see RealClearPolitics, polls 20 and 21 January 2011). Other candidates mentioned are among others former Alaskas Governor Sarah Palin, who was the Republicans' vice president candidate in 2008; former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr. of Utah, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
It might be too early for Scott Brown to run, but then again he is not in a much different position than Barack Obama was in 2008. Some think he is too liberal, too. He could be vice president material, though, although a Romney/Thune or a Romney/Daniels ticket might seem more likely. It will be fun to watch John Thune's campaign though - if he decides to run, that is. Of course the world needs a US president of Norwegian ancestry! :-) I still find it difficult to believe that populist candidates like Palin and Huckabee could win the nomination - the former will most likely be crushed by the other Republican hopefuls if she dares to run.
I will surely return with more comments and predictions later on! We are up for a lot of fun!
(*) Of course I get my news feed from many other sources, including RealClearPolitics, Politico.com, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post (which, by the way, asks today: "Who can win the 2012 GOP nomination?"), The Boston Globe and others.
Updated on Sunday 23 January 2011 at 10.15 (url corrected); last time updated on Wednesday 1 February 2012 at 23.30 (typo corrected).