The complexity of U.S. politics and the apparent weakness of the Republican presidential field has left Europe with a misguided perception of the impending presidential election this November. It is so much so that the general view from the Old World is that the only possible outcome is the re-election of Barack Obama, a president that has enjoyed enormous sympathy from the chancelleries of Europe since the day he stepped foot in the White House.

And his ascension to the presidency of the most powerful nation on Earth represented a significant shift: He was the first black president, marking the end of the second Bush presidency and returning the Democrats to power. Furthermore, his progressive profile inspired new hope in media outlets across the globe regarding the Middle East and the war on terror, while representing many of the values that the world seemed to have lost. Some of that still remains; however, the harsh Republican campaign from day one, coupled with the economic crisis, pose an existential threat to his re-election.

Is it enough to guarantee his defeat? Well, the most recent survey published by the Washington Post and the ABC cable news network leaves the possibility open. If Obama were to go head to head with both Republican candidates as of right now, Mitt Romney, the primary front-runner, would be defeated by a slim margin of only 48 percent to 47 percent, while Rick Santorum would lose by just three points. It’s only a poll, and in the coming months, we’ll certainly see others with widely varying results, given the roller-coaster nature of American politics. However, regardless of the polls, we must continue to pay close attention to the economy to see the extent to which it can or will complicate the re-election of Barack Obama.