Apologies for the political post. I'm not actually taking any sides here, and I hope it won't turn anyone off, regardless of political persuasion. I just wanted to record a prediction on my mind so I can check it later. Anyway. Here's what I see happening:
So when did we last see a president facing heavy, ideologically-incensed opposition nevertheless re-elected by a slim margin? Don't have to think back too far. Yep, I'm talking about 2004. Now, the interesting thing about 2004 is that, looking at Bush's approval ratings, that's just about the last time he could've eked out a re-election:
Bush approval ratings over both terms
And despite Obama's similarly unidirectional trend in approval ratings, he seems to have just pulled off a similar feat. But I don't see any reason to believe his trend is going to reverse. So, reasoning by analogy, I'm going to put in a prediction of a similar second-term implosion for Obama. Now, where did that take us last time? Well, I suppose it brought a landslide victory for a candidate further to the left than anyone would have predicted possible. So I guess I have to assume a similar result in 2016.
I think this scenario fits with the ideas we're hearing at the moment about the Republican party. Yes, many Republicans believe Romney's mistake this year was being too far right and alienating moderates. The primaries were a circus that pushed everyone to the far right, and maybe Romney didn't pivot back to the center fast enough. But at the same time, I hear conservatives who are convinced Romney's problem was being too moderate and milquetoast. I don't see how these two movements could actually resolve in the next four years and give them a new, viable direction. But! If Obama really does undergo a Bush-level-implosion in his second term, the Republicans could easily nominate someone as far to the right as half their primary candidates this time and win. I'm not trying to lock in Bachmann/Gohmert in 2016, but I think we could see someone quite a bit less moderate than Romney.