Being optimists, most of you will read this and feel either annoyed, insulted, or depressed. Me? As an inveterate pessimist, I simply nod in grim resignation and think: I knew it. Pessimists 1, optimists 0.

Since we’re destined to lose anyway, let me be the first to say: Second look at Huckabee?

Although the next presidential election is 28 months away, President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed despite former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s prediction that Obama has only a 20 percent chance, according to American University Professor Allan Lichtman. Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events…

The “13 Keys” are conditions that favor reelection of the incumbent party candidate. When five or fewer are false, the incumbent party candidate wins. When six or more are false, the other party candidate wins.

According to Lichtman, the passage of the health care bill counts as a positive for the Democratic Party, leaving the party with only four keys likely turned against it for 2012—two short of the fatal six negative keys. With nine keys that currently favor the incumbent party, Lichtman says President Obama could endure an additional setback, such as the recent political fallout from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and still be reelected…

Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system predicted George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection as early as April 2003, Al Gore’s popular vote victory in 2000, Bill Clinton’s win in 1996, George Bush’s defeat in 1992, and the outcome of the 1988 presidential election when Michael Dukakis was well ahead in the polls.

Follow the link and scroll down for Lichtman’s scorecard of the 13 keys and pay special attention to numbers Five and Ten. Assuming he’s wrong about O-Care being a big plus for Democrats — crazy of me to suggest, I know — then Obama’s shot at a second term rests upon there being neither a double-dip recession (gulp) nor, with Afghanistan and Iran coming to a head, any “major” foreign policy failure (double gulp). And that’s assuming that there’s relatively little fallout from the oil spill; despite all the press over bureaucratic nightmares slowing down clean-up efforts and The One’s fondness for handling crisis management on the golf course, Lichtman declines to categorize the oil-pocalypse as a major administration scandal.

One nice thing about his analysis, though, is that it doesn’t reduce the election to a simple “is the economy recovering by Election Day?” calculus. Lefties like to console themselves with the idea that all of the bad Hopenchange mojo will be shrugged off by voters so long as unemployment’s ticking downwards during the campaign, but alas, ’tis a bit more complicated than that. In fact, skim through Sean Trende’s post at RCP this morning about what The One’s approval rating would look like right now assuming he hadn’t shot himself in the foot repeatedly with unpopular domestic measures. Despite all the economic pain, he’d still be hanging around near 60 percent. Consider that yet another of the many hidden costs of ObamaCare. Exit question: Should we trust a guy’s political acumen when his only run for office earned him 1.2 percent of the vote?