The recent POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll puts Obama's approval at 53% and it shows Obama leading Romney by ten points and Santorum by eleven points. All numbers represent simply another encouraging sign for the reelection chances of the president.
Certainly once the Republicans winnow out the lesser candidates, and the argument can be made that they are all lesser candidates, and produce their very best candidate for 2012, Obama's lead will certainly shrink.
A whole host of scenarios out of the control of the eventual Republican nominee and the President could shift the likelihood, in either direction, of President Obama serving a second term. No one knows what will happen, but whether or not Obama wins the upcoming election will likely have very little to do with whomever the Republican nominee will be.
Both of the leading contenders, Romney and Santorum, have their own particular qualities that make them an attractive opponent for Obama.
Santorum, a victim of his own conceit, truly thinks that his extreme positions on social issues are held by a majority of Americans. He cannot get enough of the plaudits of his Christian Fundamentalist base. He has not figured out that just because everyone in the room likes you that you cannot assume that everyone in the country likes you. He neither backtracks nor apologizes. The foundation for his vision for the future of America takes us back at least a few decades and represents a recipe for failure. Imagine the 1962 Packers facing off against this year's Super Bowl Champ New York Giants. Both great teams, but only one is prepared to face the league's best in 2012. Most of us are somewhat sentimental, but living in the past only means that you are not prepared for the future.
Romney has all the natural charisma of a rock. He cannot open his mouth without reminding all of us of how amazing wealthy he really is. Many of those in the beer-drinking middle class see Romney as a lot less Budweiser and a little more Bartles & Jaymes. Many people do not like him, but most importantly even most Republicans do not like him.
Would President Obama rather face a man who loves to talk about the "sexual realm" with little outward evidence of understanding anything about women, but who could possibly motivate some people to advocate for him or a man who has demonstrated little ability to get people excited about him, but is seen as more electable?
Personally I feel it is pretty much a toss-up, but I believe that there is one particular advantage for Democrats if Romney is the eventual nominee and subsequently loses to the President.
Gingrich and the other candidates have done a very good job of painting Romney as a lefty or as the silver fox likes to call him, the Massachusetts moderate. If Obama were to beat Romney in 2012 the tea party folks and the extreme Christian right will certainly blame the loss on running yet another moderate Republican. Their lust for a power disproportionate to their actual numbers will not be sated. In essence the craziness would continue until at the very least 2016.
If Obama faces Santorum and defeats him handily it will be seen as confirmation that running a candidate from the extreme right is not a way to win a national election even if it wins you the primary in Iowa. A realignment of the Republican Party back far closer to the center, in an effort to become more competitive, will be made possible and John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will breathe a collective sigh of relief.