In 2008, as an economic crisis played into his hands, Obama ran against an uninspiring opponent in John McCain, campaigned on grandiose promises in lieu of a record, and cultivated and rode a mainstream media wave based on a myth of his messiahship. Yet he still only won with 53 percent of the vote.
Obama had painted a bleak picture of America, which didn't really have much to do with the immediate financial crisis we were then undergoing, though he milked that for all it was worth and incorporated it into his narrative while enjoying a complete pass for his role in creating it.
Obama described an America that had lost its way and exploited the naive idealism of youth voters, promising that he would usher in a new kind of politics and an era of "hope and change."
Obama not only got the youth vote out but also garnered an unprecedented share of it. Some 54.5 percent of Americans 18 to 29 voted in 2008, and they constituted the highest category of the electorate voting. (Seniors -- 65 or older -- constituted 16 percent.)
Young voters reportedly preferred Obama over McCain by 68 percent to 30 percent -- the highest margin in that demographic since exit polling began reporting voting results by age group in 1976. The youth vote is believed responsible for delivering the two swing states of Indiana and North Carolina to Obama.
Unfortunately for Obama, he has not been able to sustain the young voters' irrational exuberance. In the November 2010 midterm elections, just 20.4 percent of Americans younger than 30 voted, compared with 23.5 percent in the previous midterm in 2006. That's about a million fewer youth voters.
But how could it be otherwise? It's one thing to run on platitudes against a party on whose watch the economy lurched into crisis just in time for the election. It's another to run on a record that not only failed to fulfill any of its optimistic promises but also is horrific in actual terms by any objective measure.
Whereas Obama was once seen as far above the fray of petty partisan politics and unencumbered by the stale, corrupt traditions that hamstring Beltway politicians from delivering reform, he is now known to be as petty and hyper-partisan as the best of the party bosses of old.
For as long as he could -- and beyond -- Obama tapped the Bush-scapegoating meme, blaming all of his failures on his predecessor. But without a miraculous economic rebound, he's going to have a very difficult time explaining away his quite specific pledge to keep employment below 8 percent, not to mention ever-soaring gas prices.
Obama now owns the national debt, which would double in his first five years and triple in 10. He's been conspicuously reckless on the issue and has chosen to attack Republicans with class warfare rather than advance responsible policies to reform entitlements and reverse the debt crisis.
His socialistic ideology and policies have horrified the American people to the point that a grass-roots uprising spontaneously erupted throughout the nation in the form of the tea party protests. Contrast this with Obama's leftist constituencies, which are just as often vexed by him as they are pleased with him. When you consider voter intensity alone on both sides, Obama goes into 2012 with a major disadvantage.
Moreover, Obama is no longer popular; his approval ratings are suffering, but more telling are the strong disapproval ratings he has received since mid-2009, showing that he not only is among the most divisive presidents in history but also evokes extremely high negatives. That's remarkable, given the hype surrounding him in the beginning and the mainstream media's continued protection.
Even Obama's personal credibility and ability to connect with voters on substantive issues are severely diminished. The more he spoke about Obamacare the less popular this albatross became. His misrepresentations, his secrecy in governance, and his abuses of power and the Constitution will be further handicaps for him.
It is true that an ideal Republican candidate has yet to emerge, but any credible candidate the Republicans nominate should begin as the odds-on favorite, no matter what propaganda to the contrary the MSM marshal to bombard us. Note that the spate of pessimistic predictions concerning Gov. Scott Walker's conservative policies in Wisconsin did not prevent the re-election of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser.
Provided Republicans don't forget they're in a fight for the survival of the nation and don't allow their stark policy differences with Obama to be diluted by failing to aggressively articulate their positions, 2012 will be the GOP's presidential election to lose.