Can we say 2012 is a golden opportunity for the Republican Party? What case can the Democrat incumbent present for reelection? The economy is anemic and job growth remains sluggish despite announced declines in unemployment rates. Republicans have the momentum from 2010 and enjoy popular support for repealing Obama’s signature achievement: ObamaCare. 

Voters seem to like Obama personally. Yet their political ideals are more commensurate with conservatism. Sixty-four percent of Americans view big government as the country’s greatest danger. Republicans are expected to hold such views. However, when 64-percent of independents and a sizeable number of Democrats also fear big government, Obama — the commissar of czars — has a problem.

Reasons abound for Republican optimism. So, you’d think the Republican Party would be drooling like a hungry wolf circling a wounded sheep. But further examination indicates the GOP may be a wolf that lacks teeth for the kill. 

While voters prefer the generic Republican to Obama, only one GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, leads Obama in head-to-head polling. And his “lead” is within the margin of error. According to Rasmussen’s December surveys the President enjoys leads of five points over Newt Gingrich, seven over John Huntsman, eight over Ron Paul, and double-digits over everyone else. The logical question is why voters would prefer an unidentified Republican over Obama but favor Obama above an identified Republican? There are several explanations. 

First, Republican candidates are under a media microscope. Any faux pas generates instant negativity. Another reason is the incessant sniping. While negative ads are productive, pettiness is a drain on approval ratings. Once there’s a nominee and the GOP targets Obama’s record the named candidate will fare better. The easiest explanation is that no votes have been cast, meaning the polls are subjective. But a fourth scenario seems most plausible. 

The Republican Party’s preferred candidates haven’t, as yet, generated excitement. Voters are ready to ditch Obama for a Republican. But they don’t hear a consistent GOP message that reflects their current mood. Something is missing in the top tier, be it message, articulation, attitude, or believability. 

A steady majority of voters believe the nation is heading in the wrong direction, charging headlong toward an all-powerful central government. Yet they possess little faith in the GOP’s dedication to fundamentally altering the national course. 

The antithetical poll result isn’t doomsday for the GOP. But it does indicate the electorate’s mindset. There’s no interest in another Bob Dole, George Bush, or John McCain-style candidate. Voters distrust the burgeoning central government and its disastrous economic machinations. Opportunity knocks for a candidate who articulates a coherent message of fiscal discipline, national sovereignty, states rights, free markets, and international strength sans adventurism. In short, there’s support for a Republican with conservative teeth. 

Obama is the weakest of sheep. But if the Republican wolf expects to gum him out of office, get set for four more years.