A few folks have asked me how I see things--so here is a summary, and why.
For me, it's simply a numbers game. The following isn't my idea of what "should" happen, but what I believe WILL happen unless there is a major intervening event to shake the world up.
Republican nominee: probably Romney, but it really doesn't matter. I can't see any scenario in which Obama is NOT reelected.
In the US, right-to-life, traditional marriage and conscience issues don't move enough voters to vote for candidates based on those issues alone. That's just the fact. It is also the fact that candidates who run on those issues are ineffective and/or uninterested in implementing policies affecting those issues when elected. Example: George Bush 1--how long did it take for him to get a partial birth abortion ban in place?
Assumption: 40% of voters will vote for ANYBODY the Republicans nominate. 40% of the voters will vote for ANYBODY the Democrats nominate. The real battle is for the 20% who are open to voting otherwise. I just don't see Romney or any other Republican candidate getting 11% of that vote.
Regarding the role of the Electoral College in all of this--I know many people in the "swing" states, and I believe I know what's on their minds at least as well as the pundits. Also, I've actually lived in one of those states for a number of years. I still can't see the numbers swinging enough to favor a Republican candidate.The math does not compute.
BUT--what about the economy? If you think it stinks, you probably aren't interested in voting for a party who is perceived as being really tough on the unemployed.
HOWEVER, I believe the economy doesn't really stink, and the prospects are good. Evidence: my 401K from a previous job was flat (not going up or down) in 2011, and has recovered from 2008.There is a lot of cash sitting out there waiting for investment opportunity. It won't sit for much longer. I'm bullish on 2012. What about Europe? I believe Germany will keep everybody in line, but even if they fail, the troubled countries are such a minuscule part of the global economy that they can't take the world down--some banks, perhaps, but not the world. The numbers just aren't there. That would be like South Dakota (a state I really love--no offense here), driving the US economy. It just doesn't add up.
Yes, some folks are underwater in their mortgages, and far too many are unemployed and stressed financially. And how is that good for Republicans? It's not, see above.
SO given that few voters actually vote on the USCCB's five critical issues (that's just the way it is, not how I'd like it to be) AND the economy is good, which is good for Obama, OR the economy is bad, which is also good for a party that is perceived as being "nicer" in hard times, I just don't see any Republican winning.