For a long while now, the political media has been sad about how the 2012 campaign doesn't seem to want to begin and none of the presumed top-tier candidates want to jump headfirst into the race. They had such big plans! Like debates in May, some of which have been cancelled, others which will soldier on, indifferently.
But how do ordinary humans view the upcoming campaign? How about with a deep and abiding dread? That sounds about right, actually. From a recent Fox News poll:
In addition, while 49 percent of Democrats are looking forward to the 2012 presidential campaign, over half of Republicans (51 percent) and independents (54 percent) are dreading it.
Of course, one reason the folks at Fox News may be dreading the forthcoming election is that, while independent voters remains middling (51 to 49 percent against) in their support for President Obama's re-election, his overall re-elect number has bumped up in their most recent survey, from 35 to 44 percent.
Also driving the worry? The current GOP field, which everyone hates:
One thing that could be helping the president's re-elect number and dampening Republican enthusiasm for the 2012 campaign is not only the absence of a specific opponent, but also the disappointment in potential prospects. Half of Republicans (50 percent) and over half of conservatives (53 percent) say they are unimpressed with the Republicans who have expressed an interest in challenging Obama.
More than seven in 10 independents (72 percent) also say they are not impressed with possible Republican challengers.
And, per Jonathan Martin today, it seems Republican lawmakers have also given the prospective GOP field a big fat "meh":
While the days when congressional insiders could determine a party nominee are long gone, their open grumbling lays bare a broadly held sentiment within the GOP.
"I don't see anyone in the current field right now, and people say that to me, as well. I'm reflecting what I hear," said California Rep. David Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee.
Dreier, who was first elected in 1980, said: "Everybody's looking for a Ronald Reagan, and they don't see one."
What's to be done? The people JMart talks to hold out some hope that maybe former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will jump into the race after spending the better part of the season begging off, or that maybe General David Petraeus will change his mind (and, you know, reveal himself to have deeply held opinions on domestic policy all of the sudden). As Martin very astutely points out, however, sometimes the urgent call for someone else to jump into the race is answered by Fred Thompson -- a former "Law and Order" actor, Tennessee senator, and dramatically failed 2008 GOP presidential candidate.
I'd say that one thing that might be fueling all of this dread is that the 2012 discussion is, thus far, being steered into a ditch by the dithering of ex-House Leader Newt Gingrich, the eye-rolling quasi-candidacy of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and the birther gutter-muck in which reality teevee mogul Donald Trump has been splashing around. This is all good news for people like former governors Tim Pawlenty (Minn.) and Mitt Romney (Mass.), who can elevate the discourse by simply joining it. But why do so now? The worse it gets, the better they look.