In five months and twelve days, Democrats in Colorado will hold their caucuses for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Colorado Republicans are almost certain to follow suit.
The Democratic Nomination Race
As I write here today, the only viable candidates for the Democratic nomination appear to be (ranked by rough overall support):
* Senator Hillary Clinton
* Senator Barack Obama
* Former Senator John Edwards
* Governor Bill Richardson
No other candidate for the Democratic nomination rivals any of these four in the polls or fundraising or internet buzz, and there isn't much time left to get where they need to be in time to get the delegates needed to win the nomination.
Former Democratic nominee and Vice President Al Gore has said that he won't run for the Democratic nomination. Candidates Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, and Mike Gravel all look unlikely to land a top of the ticket spot for the nomination at this point, and the compressed primary and caucus system works against candidates in the back of the pack. New candidates for the Democratic nomination (whose names aren't Gore or Kerry) would face even higher hurdles.
It isn't obvious how the caucus/primary process will go with these four candidates. All four come from the middle of the Democratic party politically. None are either exceptionally known for being from the left wing or the right wing of the Democratic party. While they come from the Northeast, Midwest, South and West respectively, none are running campaigns strongly aimed at a single region of the country.
By time votes and caucus results are counted on February 5, 2008, a majority of states (including California, Florida, New York, and New Jersey) will have expressed an opinion, and there will probably be a nominee. If there isn't a nominee by then, there probably will be within another week, when 34 states and Democrats abroad will have completed the process.
It is entirely possible that the list of viable Democrats could fall to two or three by the time February 5, 2008 rolls around.
The U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado for the Democrats in 2008 is almost certain to go to Mark Udall. The nominations for the 1st, 3rd and 7th Congressional Districts for the Democrats are almost certain to go to the incumbents. This leaves contested Democratic nomination races in the Democratic leaning 2nd Congressional District (Boulder-Mountains open), and in the Republican leaning 4th, 5th and 6th Congressional Districts.
The GOP nomination race
The Republican caucus process will be similarly compact. I don't follow the Republican nomination as closely, but the leading candidates in that race at this time appear to be (ranked by rough overall support):
* Former Governor Mitt Romney
* Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani
* Senator John McCain
* Former Senator Fred Thompson
* U.S. Representative Ron Paul
* Senator Sam Brownback
The door is probably open to one or two new viable Republican candidates, in the next two months or so, if the candidate can really make a sensation and has some name recognition already.
I doubt that there will be more than four viable GOP candidates by February 5, 2008.
At face value, this nomination race looks easier to handicap. Guiliani is far to the left of the Republican party, making his nomination unlikely despite strong polling, unless the GOP is truly hungry for a winner who may not represent their values, which seems unlikely given that they haven't spent long in the wilderness. Ron Paul is basically a libertarian, making him also far to the left of the party on social issues. McCain's campaign has been inept and few people think that is strong pro-Iraq War stance will help him in 2008; this will likely cost him the moderate Republican voters who backed him in earlier years, but may not be enough to win true conservatives to his banner. Brownback is very far to the right wing of the Republican party, and has failed to campaign well enough to build up his visibility as anything other than a troglodyte so far.
By process of elimination that leaves Romney and Thompson, between whom, Romney, who has a much stronger campaign, would seem to be the candidate most likely to win the nomination. Still, it is not too late for any of these top candidates to break away from the pack and win the Republican nomination for President in 2008.
Bob Schaffer appears to have cleared the field for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado in 2008. Republican nominees are virtually irrelevant in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 7th Congressional Districts, which look safe for Democrats this time around. Tancredo's Presidential ambitions make it unclear if he will run again in the 6th Congressional District, which leans Republican, and the incumbent in the 5th Congressional District, which leans Republican, may also face a primary fight. Marilyn Musgrave is almost certain to be the Republican nominee in the 4th Congressional District.
The odds of one of these ten people becoming President in 2008 is probably on the order of 80-95%, and this likelihood is rising by the week.
Major party fundraising data here. Democratic Party polling here. GOP polling here.