Barack Obama and the Democrats are pretty unpopular, and unemployment — which correlates almost directly to presidential disapproval — isn't coming down anytime soon. So why does the White House feel so confident about Obama's reelection prospects?

Obviously the White House wants to sound confident about 2012, in magazine articles. But it's still extremely difficult to figure out which Republican candidate is even capable of unseating the president, even in these terrible times.

Here's an excerpt from the lengthy new New York Times Magazine cover story centered around its Oval Office interview with Obama:

Obama's aides say they will most likely set up their re-election campaign around next March, roughly the same as when Bush and Clinton incorporated their incumbent campaign operations. They are more optimistic about 2012 than they are about 2010, believing the Tea Party will re-elect Barack Obama by pulling the Republican nominee to the right. They doubt Sarah Palin will run and figure Mitt Romney cannot get the Republican nomination because he enacted his own health care program in Massachusetts. If they had to guess today, some in the White House say that Obama will find himself running against Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.

And Mike Huckabee, while a nice person with whom to converse, doesn't have many devotees on the right outside the social conservative set, who, as a candidate's base, would just scare and annoy the independents considering voting Republican for economic reasons. Another problem is that Mike Huckabee says lots of crazy shit.

But there's always Donald Trump! Remember that? It was only like a week ago; he must've forgotten already, too.

[via Daily Intel; White House photo by Pete Souza]