Over at The Daily Caller, Liz Mair has an editorial on why Republicans shouldn’t be taking too much for granted when it comes to the 2012 elections. Her initial premise is that many observers are taking for granted an assumption which I myself have espoused on numerous occasions – that Barack Obama’s biggest enemy next November is not his GOP opponent, but the economy. If it continues to flounder, Obama is almost certainly destined to be a one term wonder, but if things improve significantly he could cruise through to a second term. It’s the same situation which effectively doomed John McCain in 2008, since he was viewed as “more of the same” from the party last holding the White House. So why worry about who wins the nomination at all?

But what if McCain had faced a different opponent, one less associated with the dual concepts of “hope” and “change,” one less capable of raising money, one lacking a platform like MyBarackObama that gave Obama an online and offline boost? The election likely would have been closer. What if Republicans had nominated a candidate other than McCain, arguably at the time the Republican with the strongest appeal to Independent and Democratic voters? Obama would have had an even greater edge.

The reality is, in politics, myriad factors affect the outcome of races, and the identity of the candidates matters.

She then goes on to lay out some of the positives and negative attributes of some of the “largely set” field of GOP candidates. A brief and incomplete summary of these points:

Mitt Romney
Plus – Lots of money which will be needed against Obama, with the proven ability to raise more from traditional, big ticket GOP donors.
Minus – Skepticism over his ideological commitment, religion, or both. A perception of being “plastic, robotic or inauthentic.”

Tim Pawlenty
Plus – Proven record on health care and spending. Likeable. Viewed as, “responsible, trustworthy, relatable.”
Minus – Uncharismatic, boring. Shy about throwing punches.

Jon Huntsman
Plus – Executive branch experience, business record, well financed, Obama team is “queasy” about running against him.
Minus – Worked for Obama. Moderate profile. Potential failure to excite the base, get out the vote.

Rick Perry
Plus – Texas record on job creation, reduced spending and taxes. Executive branch experience.
Minus – Similarities to GWB. Portrayed as ideological, “dim bulb” southerner. Questions on fundraising ability.

I’ll leave it to you to read the full explanation for each. One notable missing component from Liz’s list for me, though, was the brevity of it. There are only four names and one of them isn’t even officially running. They also represent a rather monochrome pack of generic Republican “old white guys.” This seems to assume that people like Bachmann and Cain have already been left like road kill on the side of the campaign trail. (Not that I’m saying either of them is a shoe-in at this point.)

If you’d like to bat around the issue with Ms. Mair, she will be a guest at the 4 o’clock (eastern) hour on The Not Ed Morrissey Show later today and will take your questions.