The big buzz today has been the change in the GOP Presidential field. Essentially we are now looking at three candidates. Here they are in this screenshot from the HuffPo:
So the three we have to watch out for are Romney, Perry and Bachmann. All three of them are scary and can pose a possible challenge to President Obama, but one really stands out. This is one that I have warned of before - Michele Bachmann (see here, here and here). Still, I hear countless on the left saying there is no way Bachmann will get the nomination, let alone win. I have to disagree with these people and our changing political landscape is all the evidence I need.
First off there were dozens of races last year the pundits and politicians thought a fringe candidate wouldn't win, yet we ended up with a lot of "Tea Party" candidates in Congress. This should have been a wake up call to people on the right and left, but it wasn't. Instead they still look at candidates like Bachmann and feel there is no way she can win.
So how can this all go against the left? Let's start with the primary. First off we have Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, both of which don't have the best records in terms of conservative values. Bachmann places a lot better and her lack of actual leadership can actually prove to be a plus against these two.
There's also the woman factor. There are people who will vote for her simply because she is a woman, just the same as people voted for Obama because he is black and people voted for Kennedy because he was Catholic. This is human nature and can't be dismissed. There's also men who will vote for her because she is good to look at. Again - human nature and something we saw with Sarah Palin in 2008. That will give her a decent showing in many states and could quickly put her in the lead.
We also have the cross-over factor in the primaries - those on the left who will vote in a Republican primary just to punch the card for Bachmann. To many this will be seen as a joke; let them nominate her and see what happens. Of course we are in historic times and no one can predict what will happen in the general.
So then we get to the general election. We now have President Obama verses Michele Bachmann. We already covered one issue that will carry over to the big show, the gender issue, but there are other issues.
The biggest hurdle President Obama is facing is the economy. The odds of us having a drastic enough turn-around in 14 months to make a difference are growing dimmer. This will push more Independent voters over to the Republican side, increase voter turn out from the actual Republicans and even keep a lot of Independent and Democratic voters home. That's a big ding right there and one not to be underestimated.
We also need to consider the enthusiasm gap. On the left, this is a really big problem. Sure the thought of a President Bachmann can really scare some lefties into getting out to vote, but enough just won't care enough to go punch that card. Instead they will decide to stay home, which is the same as voting for Bachmann. The Democrats own all the blame in this problem. They have continually ignored the base, at the direction of Obama, and that is going to push voters away. I also don't see anyway the Democrats can remedy this problem soon enough to make a difference.
Bachmann also has time to fine tune her image. Sure she has said a lot of crazy things in the past, but she now has a professional staff out there to help rebuild her and make her less loony. The right got a big lesson in how this can fail with Sarah Palin and I doubt they will make that same mistake again. Bachmann also has the advantage of being around big time politics for many years, so she knows to listen to these people, unlike Sarah Palin. I have noticed her maturing as a candidate in the short time she has been in the race. Sure she still puts out the occasional crazy statement, but as the race goes on those will become close to extinct.
We have a lot of reasons to fear the possibility of a President Bachmann and if the left doesn't start taking her more seriously then those fears will multiply. It's simple for pundits and bloggers to think I'm crazy here, but it's also simple for them to forget that 80% of the voting populace doesn't follow politics like they do. They will quickly see things they like about Bachmann and that will win their vote. If you don't believe me, then think back to 2000, when so many voters praised George Bush as a "guy I would like to have a beer with". That was enough to win those votes. Sure we all know Gore technically won the election, but he was the incumbent party running against one of the best economies this country has ever seen. We are in totally different times now and anything can happen - even President Bachmann!