Mark Halperin’s answers this week in TIME.
Why did President Obama announce his re-election campaign in April?
He has no Democratic challenger (so far), and none of the major Republicans jockeying to run against him have officially entered the race. But Obama’s strategists want to open local offices in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada to make contact with swing voters and make mischief with the GOP opposition. And with Obama’s online donations likely to lag behind their 2008 pace (his policies and the realities of White House life have turned off some liberal supporters), the President’s money gatherers need to start banking checks. The mind-boggling target: $1 billion.
Will Obama’s 2012 campaign resemble 2008?
Aides say the President will try to focus on his Oval Office duties until fairly late in 2012 so that by the time he gets going, he’ll be running a sprint, not sprinting a marathon. Another difference: he’s no longer the scrappy outsider; he’s flying Air Force One. And his team will be split for the first time: 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe is ensconced in the White House, while strategist David Axelrod will run the campaign from Chicago. Obama advisers swear this won’t be a problem, but a bifurcated command has upended other campaigns before.
Is Obama the favorite or an underdog?
The favorite. Political bookmakers see Obama as better than even money to win a second term, thanks to his fundraising strength, political experience and skill — and the apparent weakness of the GOP field. But he will struggle to hold such swing states as Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado, opening up the Electoral College bowl. A Republican who can compete in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa will have a real chance to beat him.