Its amazing to think about, but with the new condensed primary schedule that both US parties are planning for 2008, by this time next year, we will probably know who won both parties nominations. For the first time in 80 years, there will be no incumbents running in the 2008 race, making it truly wide open. For awhile, it seemed like everyone and his (or her) brother may be tossing their hat into the ring and running in 2008, though right now the field (especially on the Republican side) is still fairly small. The race also appears to be the most diverse ever, a real representation of the nation with an African American candidate, a woman candidate, a Mormon, (potentially) a Hispanic, and a sleaze ball (Mr. Guiliani, please stand up).
This week, with the Iowa caucuses, which kicks everything off, almost a full year away, there's already been some news. Mitt Romney, the Mormon in question and arguably the GOP front runner in the race right now (until McCain jumps in), has already started a media ad buy and put out commercials. His biggest problem is name recognition, though his being a Mormon Republican from Utah didn't hurt him in winning the governership of Massachusetts, he does have potential as a national candidate. Further, just today there was the announcement that Governor Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa) is dropping out of the race after realizing that he is incapable of raising the money needed to make a serious run.
With Vilsack out, that leaves Biden, Dodd, Edwards, Kucinich, and Obama in the race for the Dems. I may be wrong, but while Hillary has created an exploratory committee and announced she intends to run, she has yet to file with the FEC, which seems like only a formality at this point. For the Republicans, its Brownback, Romney, and Guiliani with McCain, much like Hillary, ready to jump in when the time is right.
I'm not a died in the wool Democrat, but to me it seems that the combination of Edwards, Obama, and Hillary are going to be the shining stars, with the nominee most likely to be Edwards or Obama. On the GOP side, its McCain and (grudgingly) Guiliani, though Romney has the potential to stir things up. I just don't see Guiliani as a serious candidate because of his personal life issues and the fact that, if not for the myth of Guiliani created post-9/11, he would go down in NYC history as being a mediocre mayor at best (and I still think that's all he was). Plus, the fact he's probably "not conservative enough" for the GOP in a campaign where no hopes like Brownback (and Tancredo if he runs) are bound to pull the debate to the right. As it appears right now, the Dems don't really have a candidate who goes that far left (except maybe Hillary) and thus should be better positioned for the general election.
Anyways, while its fun to play this game, at the end of the day, its pretty useless, but its going to be interesting to see how everything plays out.