seem oddly slow to start choosing a presidential candidate WASHINGTON, DC elongated standards of American politics, next years presidential election is not that far away. It is less than a year until the first primaries and caucuses. By this time four years ago eight Republicans and ten Democrats had already thrown their hats in the ring; so far this year no serious candidate has done so, though Newt Gingrich, a former House speaker, has supposedly been on the point of declaring for some days. No presidential election, in fact, has got off to such a slow start since 1992when, as now, there was an incumbent president and no obvious front-runner ready to take him on. There is no shortage of Republicans who consider themselves presidential timber, of course. But their slowness to register officially as candidates is an indication of the peculiar dynamics of the race. The main thing holding Republicans back is doubt about whether Barack Obama is beatable. After their thumping success in the mid-terms, many of the partys leaders declared that they were well on their way to retaking the White House. But that is a daunting task: only three sitting presidents have lost re-election bids since the second world war. All threeGerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush seniorfaced determined primary opponents, whereas disgruntlement with Mr Obama on the left, though considerable, does not appear severe enough to spawn a vexing challenger. (Such fringe challengers tend to split their parties with unfortunate consequences.) Moreover, Messrs Ford and Bush were ousted only after the White House had been under the control of their party for eight and twelve years respectively. Mr Obama took office just two years ago, after eight years of Republican sway. read more www.lifeofmshaba.com: The Republicans Who dares take him on? .