Looking forward, what is the best and worst that we can expect in politics and economics?
Suppose President Obama’s jobs speech of last Thursday marks a turning point. He gets energized by being a little more partisan. He finds that putting Republicans on the defensive is good politics. His poll numbers improve. He wins some of his proposed jobs bill, and fights hard for the rest of it.
As unemployment remains persistently high going into an election year, he offers even stronger medicine. His base gets energized.
(Stay with me here, I know this is a bit wishful — it’s an exercise, a thought experiment, not a prediction — but the alternative is to just slit our wrists.)
As the election draws closer, voters take a closer look at what Republicans are actually offering and it isn’t very appetizing. Rick Perry, the likely GOP nominee, who has never faced tough media scrutiny, doesn’t wear well. He has trouble dancing away from the truly nutty stuff he has embraced in the recent past.
So Obama is re-elected in 2012. Skeptical voters in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin are not thrilled with the recession and the Democrats, but even less happy with Republican governors and austerity.
Even better, a resurgent Obama has coattails. The House flips back to narrowly Democratic. Keeping Democratic control of the Senate will be tougher, with 23 Democratic seats and just 10 Republican ones up in 2012. Democrats will have to take every winnable race, but let’s say they do, and the Senate stays barely Democratic.