8 Political Predictions for 2012

The people and issues that will rule political discourse in 2012.

By + More

The presidential election should be about the economy but national security issues will rear their ugly heads this year. Social issues like immigration and gay marriage will have their run in the sun too.

1. Former Gov. Mitt Romney gets Nadered. President Barack Obama narrowly defeats Romney with Libertarian Party candidate Rep. Ron Paul taking just enough votes away from the GOP candidate to decide the contest in favor of the president. Ron Paul does to Romney what Ralph Nader did to Al Gore in 2000.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Will Mitt Romney Be the GOP Presidential Nominee?]

2. A record number of congressional incumbents lose after another year of gridlock. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise since only 1 in 10 Americans trusts Congress to do the right thing. Even political consultants and talk radio hosts do better than that.

3. The European debt crisis continues to slow improvement in the U.S. economy. If the European crisis cripples our economy, Americans will hope that this time, the feds bail out working families instead of the banksters.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the European crisis.]

4. Tensions between United States and Iran reach a flashpoint. Last weekend, the Iranian navy flexed its muscle with training exercises in the Straits of Hormuz though which one sixth of the world's oil supply travels. Experts believe that Iran has developed fuel rods necessary to build a nuclear weapon. The conventional wisdom is that the 2012 campaign will be about the economy but the tensions with Iran could push national security issues onto the front burner.

5. Immigration gets onto the radar screen in the presidential race after the Supreme Court decides the Arizona immigration case. The decision will make a big splash regardless of how the court rules. The court will also rule on the healthcare reform law. But healthcare is already front and center. Rep. Michele Bachmann used the word Obamacare 11 times in her concession speech Wednesday. It will be incumbent on the president to show Americans that Obamacares because the new law forces health insurance companies for the first time to cover people who have pre-existing conditions.

[See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

6. The president endorses gay marriage. The presidential decision doesn't have much practical effect because of state control over marriage laws but it sends an important message about tolerance to the minority of Americans who still oppose gay marriage. The president's endorsement is a great way to energize the liberal Democratic base; the action doesn't cost the federal government a dime and even House Republicans can't stop the president from expressing his opinion.

7. Campaign strategists can plot and plan all they want but a presidential campaign takes on a life of its own. In an election that should be about the economy, foreign policy issues will be a big part of Campaign 2012. President Obama uses the death of Osama bin Laden, the withdrawal from Iraq, and the downfall of dictators in Egypt and Libya to illustrate something that is important to Americans….that he is a strong leader who can take on all comers and that he could get a lot done if congressional Republicans weren't standing in his way.

8. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's poor showing in Iowa is a blow to Dixie, but I predict the South will rise again on Monday when a SEC team will win the college national football championship.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on Newt Gingrich
  • Read the U.S. News debate on whether the United States should consider using military action to hinder Iran's nuclear program.
  • See pictures of Obama behind the scenes