As the 2012 election season approaches, analysts have begun examining campaign strategies and the strengths and weaknesses of prospective candidates. Political science professor Thomas F. Schaller’s latest Baltimore Sun column argues that a relatively weak GOP presidential field may be due to President Obama’s incumbency as well as an increased Republican Party focus on state-level congressional and gubernatorial races. “The smart play for ambitious and, especially, young Republican pols is to noisily flirt with the idea of running next year—but wait until the following cycle to actually do so,” argues Schaller. However, regardless of how Republicans fare in the 2012 presidential race, he suggests the campaign may still offer an opportunity for candidates to test out new ideas and messages related to health care, entitlement reform and the deficit. For a state-level analysis of the 2006, 2008 and 2010 elections and what they might say about 2012, see Schaller’s guest column on Sabato’s Crystal Ball. There he examines demography in relation to the political races in four key states: Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.