Analysis: GOP's struggle on taxes gives Dems hope

By CHARLES BABINGTON | December 22, 2011 | 3:16 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is getting unexpected help from a Republican Party that seems incapable of capitalizing on its advantages.

Congressional Republicans' fumbling of the payroll tax issue is the latest example of party in-fighting and disarray that gives Democrats hope for the 2012 elections.

GOP presidential contenders have tried to distance themselves from the legislative mess.

But they might be tarred nonetheless if swing voters decide the party is either inept at governing or too extreme.

Republicans note that they crushed Democrats in last year's elections and may be strong again next year.