Republicans Confident They Can Beat Obama

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President Barack Obama
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Campaign roundup: the best of today's 2012 coverage.

Republicans fancy their chances against Obama, according to a recent Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll: "The number of Republicans hoping President Obama faces a primary challenge in 2012 has dropped significantly over the past nine months — an indication that GOPers view him as increasingly vulnerable in a 2012 general election. Two-thirds of self identified Republicans now support the idea of a primary challenge to Obama, according to new data from the Washington Post and Pew Research Center. That’s an 11-point decline since November. Among 'conservative Republicans' the drop-off is particularly steep, as 67 percent now back an Obama primary challenge, down from 80 percent who said the same last fall." [Washington Post]

The Iowa straw poll could make or break Tim Pawlenty's lackadaisical campaign: "As the only mainstream Republican candidate actively competing in the Ames straw poll — thanks to Mitt Romney’s decision to skip the event and Rick Perry’s presidential race slow-walk — Tim Pawlenty may never have a better opportunity to break through in the 2012 campaign than this Saturday... With so much firepower behind Pawlenty and so few candidates who have a plausible chance at coming out ahead, Hawkeye State politicos say Ames will be a potentially campaign-changing test of the Minnesotan’s strength. But if Pawlenty fails to deliver, it will be a grim – and possibly fatal – omen for his underfunded presidential bid." [Politico]

'Super PACs' will be a big factor in the 2012 election: "The creation of super PACs as political advertising vehicles is an outgrowth of the Supreme Court’s pivotal 2010 ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited cash on campaign ads. The new crop of candidate-specific super PACs allow deep-pocketed individuals, corporations and unions to write checks far exceeding the maximum amount they can give directly to their preferred candidate ($2,500 per person per election) to groups often run by operatives closely allied with the candidate. The super PACs are legally barred from giving directly to — or coordinating their spending with — their favored candidate. That can curb their effectiveness but also frees the operatives running them to air attack ads and deploy other, far more aggressive tactics than the candidate would want to use." [Politico]

The GOP is eyeing young voters disillusioned with Obama: "This election cycle, Republicans are taking younger voters seriously. And they’re hoping to use economic malaise as a recruiting tool... While disillusionment might keep young Democrats at home, economic worries might bring more young Republicans to the polls — or convince young independents that they’re better off backing the GOP candidate... Republicans plan to make 'a concerted appeal to younger voters' this cycle, former national party chairman Ed Gillespie told the College Republicans. 'Millions who were inspired by the stirring rhetoric of then-candidate Obama in their college years are now among the unemployed and underemployed under President Obama.'” [National Journal

Jon Huntsman scores an endorsement from ... the son of a prominent ex-governor.: "Jeb Bush Jr., the 28-year-old son of Florida's popular former governor, is throwing his support behind presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.... On Tuesday, the Huntsman camp hinted news of a “major announcement” on the horizon, stirring up brief speculation that Jeb Bush Sr., perhaps the most coveted endorsement in Florida, was on board. His son’s endorsement, though not as powerful as his father's, could help Huntsman with Latino voters, a large constituency with whom Republicans are hoping to gain traction... Bush Jr. will formally endorse Huntsman in Miami on Wednesday morning and announce his new post as national chairman of “GenH,” the campaign's youth and young professionals outreach." [RealClearPolitics]

Discontent with both parties presents an opening for a third-party candidate: "In the shadow of the bitterly fought agreement to raise the federal debt ceiling, the independent voters who usually hold the balance of power in American politics are expressing astronomical levels of discontent with President Obama, Congress, and the Washington system itself... With each party hemorrhaging public support amid political polarization and economic stagnation, the implications for 2012 are complex and unpredictable. American history lacks a true example of an election in which voters turned out large numbers of incumbents from both parties, but to some observers that no longer seems impossible amid the declining support for both Obama and congressional Republicans. And while no serious independent presidential candidate has yet emerged, the numbers show an unmistakable opening for a Ross Perot-style outsider candidate who mobilizes voters unhappy with both major parties." [The Atlantic]