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Posted at 11:04 AM ET, 01/24/2011

Will Obama's poll numbers scare off some challengers?

By Ezra Klein

I don't tend to take poll numbers very seriously until an election is right around the corner. A poll in January is just not sufficiently predictive enough of a poll in November for me to care about it. So the fact that Obama is topping 50 percent in a slew of recent polls doesn't interest me much.

But there's one way in which it could matter: No Republicans have yet announced that they're running for president in 2012. Plenty are testing the waters, but as Dave Weigel noted, by this time in the 2008 campaign, 14 candidates were officially in.

That Obama's poll numbers looking surprisingly strong at a moment when they should be looking fairly weak might push some of the stronger candidates who are on the fence about running in 2012 -- Chris Christie, say, or John Thune -- to hold off until 2016. And a weaker field is always good for the incumbent.

By Ezra Klein  | January 24, 2011; 11:04 AM ET
Categories:  2012 Presidential  
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obama will be re~elected!!
and then
onto huntsman in 2016!

Posted by: jkaren | January 24, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

2016 belongs to either Ryan or Rubio, if they can avoid major gaffes.

Thune is a candidate only in his own mind, SD is way too small a state to support a presidential candidacy.

Christie has tied his wagon to the NJ economy. We'll see how that looks one year from now.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 24, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Might have to do with the fact that Republicans had a lot more time to think about it in 2006 since they sat out for the 2004 campaign.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 24, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

And six of the candidates on Weigel's list were Democrats, so Obama's incumbency is definitely a part of it.

Posted by: DDAWD | January 24, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Like you say, it's too early to tell for sure. The Repubs have given Obama a few wins that they should not have. Boehner needs to get tougher! One thing is for sure, Palin is OUT! And the GOP doesn't have a new face! But, time will tell!

Posted by: my4653 | January 24, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it is too early to tell - it is January and in 2008, there was no incumbent running. Better frame of reference is 2004 (even though G.W. Bush was more popular).
However, if by April, the Republicans have a small # of announced candidates, the ball game is entirely different. Will it be because the establishment has settled on a preferred candidate, is it because of strength on President Obama's numbers, or is it because of difficulty reconciling Tea Party demands with past actions (such as Romneycare?)

Posted by: avagabond | January 24, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse


wait isn't Huntsman a Republican? Good for you!!

I'd say that Obama's crowding out the centrist candidates with his actions since the November elections.

As far as my Governor christie goes he's got a lot more work to do in NJ in cleaning up the "business as usual" in Trenton goes.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 24, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree with avagabond. You can't reasonably compare 2012 to 2008, when the incumbent president couldn't run for another term.

If there is an advantage to announcing early and building your campaign, isn't it relative to the timeline of your opponents (in your party) rather than to the calendar?

And by the general election, the Republican nominee will have the full support of Republicans, so I doubt the length of time of the official candidacy will matter much there, either.

Posted by: dpurp | January 24, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

His poll numbers won't.

History might.

Presidents are usually re-elected unless they are boorish failures like Carter.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 24, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

wait isn't Huntsman a Republican? Good for you!!

thank you.
his positions seem intelligent and reasonable.
i like to see talented, reasonable and intelligent people in both parties. and i admire those people, in either party.
although, i think lately, they are few and far between. i think he holds the most promise, at this point, for republicans, in the future, after president obama's second term.
the republican and the democratic talent pool looks severely limited, and i think he has much more to offer the country, in vision and policy, than thune, and certainly christie, romney, and all of the other republicans, that are being mentioned now.
as a democrat, i am deeply grateful for the service of president obama, nancy pelosi, and senators wyden, mccaskill, kerry and rockefeller. there are a few others who i like....but they are the ones i have the most admiration for.

Posted by: jkaren | January 24, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: AZProgressive | January 24, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Was a weaker field good for Bush in 1992?

Posted by: bharshaw | January 24, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Any Republican candidate knows that losing in 2012 will rule them out for 2016. And Obama will be tough to beat in '12.

As the economy shows signs of strengthening, Obama's approval ratings will probably go UP from here. The fact that they are where they are right now is pretty amazing.

The Republicans are wise to consider waiting until 2016.

Posted by: SteveCA1 | January 24, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Huntsman is just a silly idea, as is Huckabee

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 24, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Huntsman is just a silly idea, as is Huckabee."

while people are speculating about 2016, i dont see why huntsman is "a silly idea."
people are entertaining thoughts of candidates who seem far less intelligent, reasonable and capable than huntsman, who is now working in a key position, that should give him a lot of experience in international affairs, diplomacy and the economy.
i think he seems more intelligent, worldly and reasonable than all of the names being bandied about.
and after president obama completes his second term, i hope we have two intelligent and greatly capable candidates for both parties.
what makes him "silly?" his religion?
how much sillier do you find him than some of the names being bandied about for a presidential candidate?
gingrich? p-l-n?

Posted by: jkaren | January 24, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

By December of 2002, we had a pretty good idea who was running for president. Candidates had formed their exploratory committees. Howard Dean supporters started having meetups. It felt like the process by early 2003 was well under way.

All that said, Gary Hart announcing he was running for president in January of 1983 wasn't a bad harbinger for Reagan. Nor was Tom Harkin being the first presidential candidate to announce all the way in September of 1991 a good sign for Bush.

Posted by: constans | January 24, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse


Maybe I misunderstood your post. In the first one, you seemed to be suggesting that Hunstman a Republican could be the Democratic nominee in 2016. If so, that's absurd, not just silly. If you weren't implying that, it's my fault that I misunderstood.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 24, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

There would have to be quite a few changes in the Republic party for Huntsman to get out of the primaries in 2016. I'd be happy to see it happen though.

But think about the Romney effect. Calling Romney too liberal is one one thing when it comes out of the mouth of a reporter. But imagine the primaries when it's coming out of the mouth of Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. Last time Romney faced that kind of attack he was KO'ed in two seconds.

I worry that the stink of working for Obama would end Huntsman's candidacy before it began.

But I hope not, things change in 5 years.

Posted by: CarlosXL | January 24, 2011 8:18 PM | Report abuse

" If you weren't implying that, it's my fault that I misunderstood."

thanks, johnmarshall5446....

i like to see intelligent and capable people running in both parties, and i started to read about huntsman quite recently, and then tried to find out more about him.
i thought that he seemed to be intelligent, capable, skillful and worldly...qualities that are not in abundance, in either party.
i like to see republicans in positions of leadership, who dont frighten me....and most do, these days....and honestly, i am not impressed with many democratic leaders, either, now.
we are safer, and can breathe easier, when we have capable leaders in both parties....not people that terrify us, or make us feel ashamed.

Posted by: jkaren | January 24, 2011 10:07 PM | Report abuse


this is a quote from a post on this blog, last week...and that is what caught my attention, about him....and then, i tried to find out more information.

"The sort of election Huntsman could win -- and the sort of election he seemed to be preparing himself for when he took the Obama administration's offer of a job -- is a 2016 race where the retiring Obama is quite popular in the country, and the GOP is willing to make some fairly serious sacrifices to win back power. In that world, Huntsman can offer both some level of continuity and some level of change."

Posted by: jkaren | January 24, 2011 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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