Historically, incumbent presidents who have sought another term have won them by a two-to-one margin. Those aren’t impressive odds. How many of us would bet on a horse with minimal chances like that? Since 1900 only one incumbent president whose party captured the White House from the other party four years earlier (Jimmy Carter) has been beaten. The other incumbent losers—Taft, Hoover, Ford, and the senior Bush—were from a party that had held the White House for two or more consecutive terms. But the key is that Carter and Obama are practically twins; both won the Nobel Peace Prize. Enough said. Moreover, the present moment is unprecedentedly perilous for an incumbent president. There’s really no comparison in the existence of the American Republic, save for about a dozen crises like the Civil War, economic panics, the Great Depression, world wars, and 9/11.
Democrats may also place false hope in the fact that the next presidential election will have a turnout twenty full percentage points higher than we saw in the midterm—probably about 40 million more people than voted on Nov. 2. No doubt these “midterm-missing” voters are disproportionately 18-34 years old and members of minority groups, segments of the population that backed President Obama by margins ranging from 62% to 95% in 2008. Obama can’t seem to get them to cast a ballot except when he’s on the ballot. Well, yes, he’ll be on the ballot in 2012, but they’re likely disillusioned with him, too.