Although the 2012 presidential election is more than a year away, frontrunners for the Republican nomination are emerging and Americans are beginning to formulate opinions and speculate the outcome.

The Republican primary is shaping up to be a two-man race between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, according to Mileah Kromer, political science professor and assistant director of the Elon Poll. While other candidates showed potential early on, they have failed to keep the attention of America.

"Jon Huntsman, who some would argue is the most qualified candidate with his combination of executive and foreign policy experience, just can't seem to gain traction across the broad spectrum of Republican voters," Kromer said. "Herman Cain has gained momentum in terms of appeal and favorability, however he seems to lack the electability factor."

Betty Morgan, associate professor of political science, is skeptical about how much is really definitive at this point. Although she agrees that there are frontrunners, she knows there is always the possibility of another entrant. But she does acknowledge the energy behind the Perry candidacy.

"Very honestly, (Perry) is a fabulous primary candidate," she said. "I don't know if he's the Republicans' best choice for the general election. That's something they're going to work out on their own."

Another candidate in the running is Michele Bachmann, who started out strong when she won the Ames Straw Poll, a presidential poll taken by Iowa Republicans, but is now losing favor. But it's too early for polling to be relevant, Morgan said.

"Polling at this point probably isn't even indicative," she said. "Does it point really to anything that's going to be relevant? It's unlikely."

Although Bachmann is losing support, she will still be around for a while longer, Morgan said.

"I think it's likely that Bachmann and Ron Paul may be around for a while because it doesn't cost them very much to be out there," Morgan said. "They are making it complicated for Perry and Romney because they can bring up difficult topics."

If Bachmann wants to be a major contender, she needs to focus on recapturing the majority of the Tea Party vote, Kromer said. Currently, she is splitting it with Rick Perry.

In terms of the current presidency, Obama is vulnerable, Morgan said. The next several months will be extremely important, and what's going to matter is whether there is any progress on the jobs bill with Congress, if there is clarity about the economic situation in Europe and whether there is any type of national emergency.

While the Democratic Party works on staying in good favor, the Republican Party is working on establishing an identity, Morgan said.

"What brand of republicanism it wants to claim is going to be as interesting and as important as which candidate gets nominated, or even maybe which candidate wins," she said. "At the end of this campaign, the Republican Party is going to be fundamentally changed. Their decision about which way they go is going to put them on a different trajectory probably for the next decade."