Some observers think that President Obama’s awful record should make it easy for any of the GOP candidates to beat him. That’s a dangerous delusion. No incumbent should ever be underestimated, especially one the media loves. Also, each of the Republican candidates has proven highly adept at techniques for losing the 2012 election.
Some have shown a tendency toward academic discussions that leave voters feeling as if they’ve dropped in on a college dorm-room bull session… or worse, as if the candidates might use them as subjects in a sociology lab experiment. Others have a dismaying tendency of forgetting the details of their own platforms, which leads voters to wonder how much the candidates really care about, or understand, the dramatic reforms they claim to support.
The inevitable desire to "move to the center" during the general election will tempt some candidates to pick fights with the Republican base, in the mistaken belief they’re so unhappy with Obama that absolutely nothing could make them stay home on Election Day. Vigorous stated opposition to Obama’s policies, without a thorough understanding of why they are wrong, could open the GOP candidate to attack by swarms of media "fact-checking" piranha.
President Obama is very beatable, but losing is easy too. Far too many post-mortems for failed campaigns begin with the observation that the candidate never really understood the forces aligned against him. The result of the 2012 campaign needs to be something better than a best-selling 2013 book by a defeated candidate, reviewing all the ways he or she was treated unfairly. Write that book in your heads right now, GOP contenders… and then run a campaign that tears it to shreds.