President Obama and his team are quite optimistic they will win reelection in 2012, notwithstanding the bad poll numbers he is facing and the absolute collapse of confidence with Washington and indeed the American economy.
There are a number of reasons why the president and his advisers are so optimistic.
First, it is his judgment that with the horse race now tied for president, he has managed to weather the storm of a declining economy and declining confidence much better than he, or frankly most observers, would have expected.
Right now, the president is effectively even with Mitt Romney and the Republicans, in trial heats, notwithstanding an approval rating that has gone as low as 40% in some of the Gallup polls.
But what heartens the president's advisers is they believe they have locked into a strategy now that they are convinced can and will pay dividends.
First, they have largely given up on trying to work with Congress. With executive orders on housing and student loans, and a new slogan of "We can't wait!" the president and the Democrats are now arguing that gridlock in Washington is almost exclusively the Republicans' fault and that a "do nothing" Congress, whose rating fell as low as 9% in the most recent New York Times poll, and a Republican party whose negative rating is over 71%, will get the lion's share of the blame for inaction and dysfunctionality.
Second, the president looks at the Republican primary field and laughs, as he did on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno this week.
With polls, including The Times survey, showing Herman Cain still leading the GOP field, and with the former pizza executive still leading in the key state of Iowa as well as in South Carolina and Georgia, the administration has come to believe that the most likely nominee, Mitt Romney, is in the vernacular, a "dog that won't hunt."
What that means is that with effectively 3 out of 4 Republicans not willing to support Mitt Romney, and with his numerous flip flops on abortion, health care, and the environment on his record, the White House believes that by running a negative campaign against the former Massachusetts governor, they will be able to win back independent voters whose support was so critical in 2008 to the president's victory.
And if Herman Cain, by some fluke, does wind up as the GOP nominee, the Obama administration believes that the businessman's flip flops, gaffes, and frankly bizarre behavior on the campaign trail will all help to easily reelect the president.
But there is yet a third reason for the president's confidence beyond the obvious division on the Republican side and a new approach to the presidential campaign.
The White House believes that by adopting a populist mantle, embracing Occupy Wall Street and anti-Washington sentiment, that the incumbent can make himself into the outsider again.
And while this is a stretch, the Republicans have not been able to develop any sort of coherent message on either jobs, or on tax or budgetary policy or to distinguish themselves from the extraordinarily low ratings that the Congressional party and their leadership gathers.
To be sure, I am not as optimistic about the Democrats' chances as President Obama is. The high negative ratings the president gets, the even higher negative ratings he gets on jobs and the economy, and the economic indicators which continue on balance to get worse, make me believe that his reelection is at best 50/50.
Still, it would be a mistake not to recognize that the White House at least has a strategy now, even if it is one that divides America and demonizes the Republicans.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. His most recent book is "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System" published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.
Douglas E. Schoen has served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton and is currently working with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant. He is also a Fox News contributor and co-host of "Fox News Insiders" Sundays on Fox News Channel and Mondays at 10:30 am ET on FoxNews.com Live. He is the author of ten books including,“Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield 2012). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.