With the exception of the year 2000, I have picked every winner in every presidential election since I was old enough to vote for the first time in 1968, and of course the Supreme Court stole that one for Dubya. I did think that John Kerry had a good chance of wresting the White House from him in 2004, but that was before I became aware of how hapless a campaigner he was.
My batting average is nothing special when you consider that electoral demographics, as shifty as they can be over the long term, as well as increasingly accurate public-opinion polling, make it pretty much impossible to pick the loser unless you are thinking with a part of your anatomy that is below the neck.
And so, with only 658 days to go before the 2012 election, I can say confidently that barring a perfect Republican storm, Barack Obama will be re-elected, and that perfect storm is improbable for two sets of reasons.
First, the storm would have to include another severe downturn in the economy (unlikely), commitment to another foreign adventure that sheds more American blood (even less likely), and a scandal of great magnitude involving Obama or on his watch (one never knows).
Secondly, what passes for the Republican Party these days is a shadow of its once vibrant self, its outspoken Tea Party wing is reliably incoherent, its voter demographics suck to high heaven, and absent that storm, Obama would have every front running GOP wannabe for lunch.
Ah, what a short memory that Mullen has, you say. What about the hosing that the Democratics took in the mid-term elections last year?
Well, what about it? No midterm election since forever has been a reliable predictor of the next presidential election, that's what. No White House incumbent has been turned out since Bush pere in 1992 and Herbert Hoover in 1932, the former because he ran a Kerry-like campaign and Bill Clinton was no Michael Dukakis, and the latter . . . well, you know, that Great Depression thing.
Even with all of Obama's baggage -- not a U.S. citizen, a madrassa education, socialist tendencies, extending health care to millions more Americans, and his reliance on Teleprompters -- the Republican presidential field ranges from feckless to hopeless with the exception of Mitt Romney, who cannot secure the nomination unless he tacks harder to the right and away from the mainstream, which is to say the electorate at large.
Unusually, which is to say historically, there also is no clear front runner at this point in a field that ranges from weak to hopeless and substantially lacking in mainstream appeal.
Other big names in the running at this point include Newt Gingrich (too many skeletons, and he's so 1994), Mike Huckabee (same problem as Romney), and Sarah Palin (Obama wins at least 45 states, including Alaska).
Second-tier wannabes include name recognition-impaired Haley Barbour, Bobby Jindal, Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty. Then there are Michelle Bachmann, Jeb Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. It's unfortunate that John Ensign will be too busy praying with John Edwards to run.
But the biggest problems for the Republicans are the most important segment of voter demographics today -- woman independents -- and the fasted growing demographic tomorrow -- Hispanics.
A Republican cannot win the White House without the support of a sufficient number of woman independents. The party's extremist policies, from redefining rape to denying women basic health services, will not go unnoticed, while Hispanics have fled the party in droves because of its draconian anti-immigration policies and infatuation with denying citizenship for U.S.-born children of immigrants.
And so the Republicans' only hope in 2012, it would seem at this point, would be getting the Supreme Court to steal another election for them.