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Obama’s Renomination Snooze

By David de la Fuente, Contributing Writer 

Is Barack Obama going to be reelected?

No one can say for sure. However, there is one thing we do know. He will be the Democratic nominee without lifting a finger. Only five Presidents have ever lost renomination. All occurred in the 1800s, the most recent being Chester Arthur’s defeat in 1884.

It seems unlikely that in today’s political realities that a party would toss an incumbent President overboard during renomination short of criminal activity. While no primary challenge puts Obama out of the spotlight as seven Republicans fight to be his opposition, such time out of the limelight is a good thing for the President in the long run.

Such attention from a strong primary challenger wouldn’t mean defeat in September in Charlotte, but could spell disaster in November in ballot boxes all across America. Even if a heavy-weight like Hillary Clinton were to challenge Obama, he would win renomination due to his high approvals among Democrats and amazing campaign operation

But receiving a significant primary challenge can be so devastating to an incumbent President that it is one of just thirteen of Allan Lichtman’s keys in his influential “The Keys to the White House”. George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford were both challenged from the right in 1992 and 1976 respectively. Jimmy Carter was challenged from the left in 1980. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan saw no significant challenges in 2004, 1996, and 1984.

Hopefully the difference between the reelection efforts of former three and the latter three is apparent.

While the left has sometimes claimed disappointment with President Obama for his willingness to compromise on issues like dropping the public option in health care reform or extending tax cuts for the über-rich, they have decided to strongly back him in his reelection bid in light of those challenging him from the right. While there were calls by some to challenge Obama from the left, such a challenge never materialized as the president had such a united base relative to the small faction making such calls.

It also helped that the person most likely to cause Obama damage in a primary challenge, Hillary Clinton, is arguably to his right. Being unchallenged gives President Obama a united center-left while the Republican Party must mend the wounds of the in-fighting between its business-focused conservatives, Tea Party conservatives, and small government libertarian wings. Having a united base allows the President to focus on attracting moderates and independents to form the coalition necessary to win 270 electoral votes.

For now, the President can sit back and do his day job, and allow his campaign to outreach to its 2008 supporters. As he takes the debate stage in October, he won’t have the black eye his opponent does by virtue of not having a bruising primary behind him.

David de la Fuente is a contributing writer for GenWhyPress. He is also a senior at Southern Methodist University. For any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to contact David at ddelafuent@mail.smu.edu.

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