At the New York Times this week, Nate Silver lays out some criteria for an educated guess:
I estimate that Mr. Carter’s approval rating was 31 percent, and George H.W. Bush’s was 39 percent, at the time of their respective defeats in 1980 and 1992. If Barack Obama’s numbers are in that range in November, 2012, it will be almost impossible for him to be re-elected regardless of the identity of the Republican nominee (although one Republican, Sarah Palin, has such poor favorability ratings that it might make for an interesting test case were they not to improve). Mostly, however, the question is what happens when Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are roughly in the range of 40 percent to perhaps 52 percent; within this range, the quality of the Republican candidate might plausibly make some difference as to whether he wins or loses.
[T]his year’s Republican field is on the low end of popularity as compared to most recent ones — and early primary polls are meaningful enough that this is worth considering, along with other factors. The way that I would recommend thinking about Mr. Obama’s re-election chances, at this early stage, is to start with the baseline re-election rate for incumbent presidents (which is about 70 percent), and then make a list of other factors that might lead one to believe that this figure overestimates or underestimates them. Under the list of favorable factors for Mr. Obama, I would include a bullet-point for “Public has tepid view of Republican candidates; Republican nominee might be weaker than average.”
Based on Nate Silver’s criteria: advantage Obama. My bet on President Obama’s reelection: 75%.
Given that the Republican field of presidential hopefuls is a freakshow of nihilists, Herderians, charlatans, fundamentalists, authoritarians, narcissists, and anti-science ignoramuses, I wish it were higher. Much higher.
And at Gallup, I notice that President Obama’s approval rating hovers around 46%. Not great, but not bad either.
Yes, we still can.