The 2012 presidential election is, as too many Republican debates to count have reminded us, barely a year away. And President Obama is still wrestling with some nasty poll numbers. A majority of Americans contacted for a new AP-GfK survey say the president does not deserve to be reelected, while only 46 percent favor a second term.
Sounds dismal for the president.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be, if Obama and his aides keep their wits about them and take a few more signals from the one member of the administration who seems to "get it": Vice President Joe Biden.
Presidential elections are not about who "deserves" to win or lose. They are choices between the candidates whose names actually end up on the ballot. While Americans may not think Obama deserves election in 2012, they remain convinced that his potential Republican foes are less deserving. Obama beats Mitt Romney 48-45, percent margin, Herman Cain 49-42 and Rick Perry 51-42 percent.
Those numbers, and similar figures from battleground states, suggest that Obama can win in 2012. But the disquiet of Americans with his presidency, and with the prospect of reelecting him, has plenty of Democratic strategists talking about what the president needs to do to strengthen his position going into the 2012 competition.
One recurrent themes is a suggestion that the president might improve his prospects by picking a new vice president: perhaps Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, perhaps New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, perhaps someone from a must-win state like Florida or Colorado, or a must-win constituency. Pundits and pontificators have been spinning out a steady stream of "Vice President Clinton" and "Vice President Cuomo" columns in recent weeks. A Huffington Post headline on Thursday read: "Replacing Joe Biden: Time for President Obama to Bite the Bullet?"
But any move to replace Vice President Joe Biden would be an act of political malpractice.
The vice president’s boisterous advocacy of late for the administration’s $35 billion plan to help keep firefighters, police officers, nurses and teachers on the job in tough economic times confirms his necessity—and his value to an administration that still too frequently struggles to find its voice.