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Dr. Charles G. Cogan Headshot

Presidency Interruptus: The Possible Curious Fate of Barack Obama

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It is becoming more and more apparent (at least to me) that Barack Obama is going to lose the election this fall. Firstly, Mitt Romney gives off the aura of being able to handle an economy that has largely failed to respond thus far (and it has become a pattern that incumbents fall when the economy is suffering, cf. Berlusconi, Papandreou, Zapatero, Sarkozy.) Secondly, there appears to be an inability on the part of many white Americans to stomach the idea of a black-skinned man and woman being in charge of the White House.

This forecast could be overturned by the highly unlikely possibility of Hillary Clinton landing on the vice-presidential ticket, in which case the election would be for the Democrats a... slam dunk. The appearance on Charlie Rose last week of Hillary, who in the past did not enjoy the affection of a sizeable number of Americans, was revealing. Her magisterial performance even outshone that of her co-interviewee and early predecessor, the formidable James Baker. (Of course, the comparison is a little unfair: Hillary is in possession of all the inside information; Baker is not).

Assuming there will be no October surprise, or equivalent, to tarnish the record of the Obama presidency, the incumbent will go down to an honorable defeat this fall. This leaves open the question of 2016, when the United States will be even more diverse than it is now and this would be an assist for Obama. Also, there would be an inevitable erosion of support for a (Romney) presidency.

The way would be open for a comeback. But only if Obama would be so disposed and would have the desire for it, after all the hatred he has endured at the hands of right-wing zealots during the past nearly four years.

This scenario has happened once before in American history. Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd (1885-1889) and the 24th (1893-1897) president. After his first term, he ran against Benjamin Harrison and lost. There was a repeat match in 1892 and Cleveland won over Harrison. Substitute Romney for Harrison and Obama for Cleveland and therein lies the speculative match-up.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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