Yes of course, I'm getting way ahead of myself. But that's what I do. I've been thinking recently about what such a race would look like and several items occur to me.
1. Both candidates appear to have problems with important portions of their electoral coalitions. Governor Romney is having trouble appealing to evangelicals and some movement conservatives, and the President seems to be hemorrhaging white moderates AND far-lefters. Let's face it--the far lefters won't vote for Romney, and the evangelicals/movement conservatives won't vote for Obama. Those that do vote, will vote as we would expect, though many on each side will simply stay home. And so, the election will be all about winning white moderates--who abandoned the Republican Party in significant numbers last election.
2. This will be a racially charged election. The President realizes that his coalition is in trouble as whites defect, and so he will do whatever he can to 1) maintain his extremely high support among black Americans and 2) he will appeal aggressively to the Hispanic vote. Governor Romney will continue to strongly support aggressive measures to limit illegal immigration, providing Republicans with something to cheer about while giving the President an issue to go to his coalition with. Things could get ugly.
3. I believe the economy will quite obviously be the most important issue in this election. I further believe that even if things get NO BETTER between now and the election, the President's electoral coalition--liberals, moderate whites, union members and public employees, and minorities--is sufficient to beat any of the Republicans except Mitt Romney. And so-if Governor Romney is the nominee and the economy does not improve, the President will have to do something fairly substantial to increase his chances. This I predict--and I'm again, not the first--means Joe Biden gets thrown overboard. Again folks--two conditions have to be in play for this to happen--the economy remains a dog, and Romney is the nominee. If EITHER of these is not the case, Obama wins with Biden.
There you go folks, chew on that a bit.