You may or may not like the liberal policies of President Barack Obama, but the Democrat side of the 2012 presidential race has at least one advantage for now: certainty about who its candidate will be.
There is little doubt that incumbent Obama will be on the ballot come Election Day.
But there is no such clarity at this point about which Republican will oppose him.
Any of the GOP candidates would be an improvement on Obama, but thus far, none has broken from the pack to take a commanding lead over the other Republican candidates -- even as the primaries and caucuses begin in less than three months.
Given the long-term weakness of the economy -- and high unemployment that has intensified under Obama's leadership -- the eventual GOP candidate should have at least a decent shot at defeating Obama.
In weekly Rasmussen Reports surveys dating back to early July, likely voters have put a generic Republican ahead of Obama every time -- by as much as 8 percentage points.
But "Joe Generic" won't be on the ballot opposing Obama. That duty will fall to a Republican candidate with a record that voters can compare and contrast with Obama's record before making their decision.
The GOP hopefuls who are leading in the polls -- at least for the moment -- are Georgia businessman Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Cain had 25 percent support among likely Republican voters in the latest New York Times/CBS poll, followed by Romney with 21 percent. They were far ahead of the other hopefuls.
Both men have business experience. Cain is generally seen as somewhat more conservative than Romney, but Romney often seems more self-assured in debates.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry came on strong early but has since fallen back in the polls. He has introduced a flat-tax proposal that he hopes will revive his chances.
Neither Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota nor Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has gotten much traction of late.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich articulates his arguments well, but it remains to be seen whether his campaign can catch fire.
The next tier of candidates -- including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman -- have made little headway in the polls.
So, bit by bit, it is becoming clear that some of the Republican candidates have minimal chance of success.
But it remains very unclear which one will win the nomination.