Since I did my look back at 2007 at Thanksgiving, as we enter this long New Year's weekend, I am looking forward to 2008. Man, am I ever!
First off, 2008 brings us the campaign to replace George W. Bush in the White House. It can't come a moment too soon for me. And it really does get out the gate right away with the Iowa Caucuses on January 3rd. Florida finally gets to weigh in when it still matters on January 29th. With all the controversy over going early, we are in a unique position to set the table for Super Duper Tuesday, one week later on February 5th. We could very well know who the nominees for both sides are going to be by the time the smoke clears that night. Or maybe not.
On the Democratic side, I think we have a much better chance of having our nominee decided on February 5th. MSNBC just showed a poll of Iowa Dems showing a literal dead heat with Edwards and Obama tied at 29% each with Clinton right behind at 28%. The winner in Iowa is likely to be propelled to victory from the momentum of an Iowa win. If it's Edwards that's a little less certain, but if it is either Obama or Clinton, my money would be that the winner there becomes the presumptive nominee on the night of February 5th.
The Republicans are much more muddled, but it really doesn't matter much. The Republican field is a slate of midgets compared to any one of the Dems, with the exception of John McCain, (who, believe it or not, is still in this thing) and he's the past, not the future.
The economy is likely to continue to go south through much of 2008 and that only helps the Dem nominee as the voters see us as much better on the bread and butter issues than the Republicans. And any kind of terrorist or other foreign policy "surprise" (October or otherwise) can easily be shown to remind people that after 8 years of Republican "leadership", their efforts have failed to make us safer. Even allowing for our Democratic propensity to screw things up, I just can't see any one of the Goper candidates actually defeating any one of our three top Dems in 2008.
In Congress, I see the same dynamics lifting Dems to big victories in both the House and the Senate. Everything that applies to the Presidential race applies to the congressional races. The lineup of open seats heavily favors the Dems. And, surprise of all surprises, the Democratic Campaign Committees in both the House and the Senate are kicking the crap out of their GOP counterparts in the money raised department.
In Florida, the only Dem who is even threatened is Tim Mahoney in FL-16. However, the Gopers are going to have a nasty primary fight and the winner will be broke coming out of that mess. Mahoney will be there waiting and sitting on north of $2 million. I just don't see him getting beat.
Christine Jennings has an excellent chance to defeat Vern Buchanan in FL-13 (again). CQ Politics has FL-8, FL-15 and FL-24 as Republican favored, but we've got a good chance to pick up one or even two of those seats as we have excellent candidates in FL-8 and FL-24. On top of that, I'm predicting a Democratic surprise victory or perhaps even two. In total, we could pick up as many as 4 House seats in Florida.
In the Florida Legislature, the rising tide is likely going to do nothing but help lift Dem candidates all up and down the ticket all over the state. Here in the Tampa Bay area, where we did so well in 2006, our best chance to pick up at least one more state House seat is with Carl Zimmerman in HD-48. Carl faces first termer Peter Nehr who he came oh so close to beating in 2006.
As far as I'm concerned, 2008 can't get here soon enough. Neither, for that matter, can January 20th, 2009.
Happy New Year!