Prediction: In early 2012, President Barack Obama will announce that if he is reelected, he will appoint Vice President Joe Biden to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
During the first week of September, 2012, North Carolina will be in the national spotlight as the Democrats gather in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention. Yet two weeks before the convention, North Carolina will previously be the focus of national attention as Obama announces that his Vice Presidential running mate will be that state’s junior U.S. Senator, Democrat Kay Hagan.
There are two key reasons why Obama will select Hagan. First, as I will explain below, North Carolina is the decisive state in the 2012 election: the Presidential candidate who wins North Carolina will win the election. Second, in unseating former North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole in 2008, Hagan demonstrated superb political and communication skills that would make her a definite asset to the Obama reelection campaign.
The more compelling of these two factors is the importance of North Carolina in the 2012 Presidential race. To understand this, one must examine next year’s electoral map, realizing that events could certainly change the outlook in critical states. It is not too early, however, to do a preliminary evaluation.
The Republican 2012 Presidential nominee will have a strong likelihood of winning all the states won by John McCain in 2008. By contrast, Obama will definitely lose certain states won by him in the 2008 contest.
To begin with, it is not too early to say that Obama will lose Florida to the GOP nominee. Real estate values are declining significantly in the Sunshine State, and Obama’s tilt towards the Arabs in the Middle East has resulted in a major loss of support for him in the state’s large Jewish community. A Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday showed Obama receiving a 52-44 per cent job disapproval among Florida voters. Furthermore, the poll reported the Florida electorate stating by a 51-42 percent vote that the President does not deserve reelection.
Another key factor in favor of the GOP in Florida in the 2012 Presidential sweepstakes: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is likely to be the GOP nominee for Vice President, now that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has made it clear he will not accept the nomination for the second spot.
The year 2012 will probably be a year of modest economic recovery, but not in the nation’s Rust Belt. Obama won both Ohio and Indiana in 2008, two states that George W. Bush won in both 2000 and 2004. It is highly unlikely that the President will carry either of these two Rust Belt states in 2012.
In 2008, Obama won in Virginia, a state no Democratic presidential candidate had carried since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. In the 2010 Congressional elections, however, Republicans won eight of the state’s eleven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including two Democratic incumbent seats. The anti-Obama trend in Virginia is evident – the state will likely return to the Republican fold in the 2012 Presidential race.
Similarly, while Obama carried New Hampshire in 2008, a strong anti-Obama trend was the key factor in the GOP triumphs in the Granite State’s 2010 elections. The New Hampshire GOP succeeded in 1) electing Kelly Ayotte as the new Republican U.S. senator; 2) capturing both of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives; and 3) nearly unseating a popular Democratic governor, John Lynch. At this point, the anti-Obama trend in New Hampshire is likely to continue, and the odds are in favor of the GOP Presidential nominee capturing the state in 2012.
Under the new electoral vote map resulting from the 2010 census, the switch of Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, and New Hampshire from Obama to his Republican 2012 Presidential challenger would result in the President retaining a base of 268 electoral votes and his Republican challenger controlling 255. A candidate must win 270 electoral votes in order to be elected President. Therefore, under this scenario, the winner of North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes would win the 2012 election.
Until 2008, the Republicans had carried North Carolina in every Presidential election since 1980. Obama, however, carried the state in 2008, albeit by a razor thin margin of four tenths of a percentage point. He does have at least an even money chance of winning the state in 2012. The key factor in Obama’s favor will be the state’s large African-American vote and its rapidly growing Hispanic community, as shown by the 2010 census.
It is also noteworthy that in the 2010 Congressional races, the anti-Obama trend prevailing in Virginia and New Hampshire was not in evidence in North Carolina. The Democrats retained seven of the state’s thirteen seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, a good off-year election showing.
In the 2012 Presidential race, in North Carolina, history favors the Republicans, while demographics and recent trends favor Obama. If Obama selects Kay Hagan as his running mate, he will be a definite favorite to win North Carolina, the decisive state in the 2012 Presidential race, and with that, his reelection.
So I am predicting that Barack Obama will select Kay Hagan as his 2012 Vice Presidential running mate. I expect all the comments about how foolish it is for any political pundit to predict such an outcome so far in advance of the election, especially before the Republicans select their Presidential candidate. If you see Obama-Hagan bumper stickers in 2012, however, remember that you read it here first.
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.