Since WWII, the only two Presidents who lost re-election bids were Bush I and Jimmy Carter. (LBJ withdrew from the 1968 race because his role in the unpopular Vietnam War doomed his chances.) Carter was turned out primarily because of his utter fecklessness over the Iran Hostage crisis, although his mishandling of the second oil crisis and the ‘economic stagflation’ that resulted may also have done him in. In any event, his was a uniquely poor Presidency.

Bush I was penalized by Ross Perot’s entry into the race. The 1992 results were Clinton 43%, Bush 38%, Perot 19%. The majority of Perot’s votes would have gone to Bush, so absent Perot, Bush I would have been re-elected around 52-48%.

President Obama is not in as difficult a re-election situation as either Carter or Bush I. President Obama gives off an air of personal intelligence and competence, unlike Carter, who struck many as just plain incompetent. Most of the disagreement with Obama is policy-based, not personal-based. If the economy is heading in the right direction by Springtime ’12, and unemployment is down below 9%, monthly job creation is reliably and consistently around 150-200k/mo, gasoline pricing has stabilized at not higher than around $3.25/gal, then, yes, 50% of the voting electorate plus one vote will probably vote for Obama again and put him back in the White House.

Note: This is said with the full understanding that the US economy has a natural resiliency and tends to ‘right’ itself after a period of time, regardless of the Presidential policies that dabble at its edges. Obama’s socialist-spending-interventionist policies may (or may not) have delayed the recovery, but nonetheless, he will accrue the political benefits of a naturally-strengthening economy, like any sitting President would, from any Party. Can’t hold that against him.

I submit that 2012 should therefore be viewed as a “sacrificial” Presidential year for the Republican candidate, as the odds favor Obama’s re-election. Romney would be a good candidate in that he would present Republicans in a good light, bring credibility and seriousness to the Party’s image, and ‘get him out of the way’ as far as letting him have his chance. It’s his ‘turn.’

His MA health care situation can be easily explained away with, “It’s not working as I envisioned it would; I’m glad we can all see that now. Obviously, it would be a huge mistake to expand this to all 50 states.”

That takes care of it: “Not working as I envisioned.Seemed like a good idea, tried it, but in practice, these things can’t work BECAUSE OF OVERREACHING LIBERAL INTERFERENCE AND BUREAUCRATIC INEFFICIENCY, so let’s not make the bigger mistake now that we have all seen the proof. It would be tough to argue with the obvious implication that if you’ve seen it fail on a perfectly-parallel, perfectly-analogous smaller scale, it would be idiotic to make it 50 times bigger. Romney would get credit from the electorate for his honesty and he’d score debating points by implying that the failure was due in large part to the inherent inefficiency of Liberal implementation.

Since 2012’s Republican candidate is a likely loser anyway, it would be foolish to rush a potential 2016 winner like Pence or Jindal too soon. Pence may run for Governor in 2012, which would give him a very strong resume by 2016. He has all the right Conservative credentials; he has the look, the demeanor, the voice, the smile, etc. Jindal, too, has all the right qualifications, and of course, the added bonus of the right demographic.

There is a reasonably good chance that the Senate will go Republican in 2012, which will limit the amount of runaway liberalism that Obama can impose on the country.

Regardless of whether it’s Romney or someone else, the Republicans need to nominate a real conservative, to solidify the Party’s message. RINO Republicans are never good choices. Giuliani and Dole were total busts, as was McCain (whose nickname “Maverick” was simply code-speak for “definite RINO tendencies.” He was also an incredibly weak campaigner and had a very weak resume in many other areas).

A wise, realistic Republican near-term strategy would be as follows:

Have the 2011-2012 Republican House formulate good, clear, understandable, media-savvy policy proposals that can get good, understandable, accurate media coverage and present those to the Democratic Senate and public with a sharp, clear message of why those proposals are to the country’s benefit, and why Democratic opposition to them is bad for the country. Clear, clear, clear, media-savvy, media-savvy, media-savvy.

Nominate a viable 2012 Republican Presidential candidate whose personal credibility and personal aura strengthens and enhances the Republican Party’s image. If he wins (probably unlikely), great. If he loses, (more likely), he’ll have lost ‘good,’ leaving the Republican Party better off from a public image and issue-awareness standpoint than before. That will pave the way for 2016 when it will be an open race and a fresh, extremely attractive candidate like a Pence or a Jindal will be ready.

To reiterate, the probable Republican takeover of the Senate in 2012—along with the still-Republican House—will keep the liberal damage that Obama can inflict on the country to a minimum and will likely pull Obama meaningfully to the center. Therefore, the country as a whole still benefits in the 2012-2016 time-frame, before a Republican wins the White House in 2016.