It was over a year and a half ago that I wrote the first story suggesting that a move in the date of the Florida presidential primary, then just a rumor in Tallahassee, would likely shake up the entire presidential race.
Had the Republican-dominated Florida legislature not moved up the date of that state's primary, to precede the 23 Super Tuesday states by a week, the entire GOP and Democratic race for the presidency might have turned out radically different.
Certainly the change impacted the Democratic battle. National party leaders knew full well from the start that they would refuse to recognize the vote in Florida, where Hillary Clinton was a lock to win the contest (and, in fact, under Florida law, did win). Consider the impact Clinton's win in New Hampshire, combined with a huge victory in Florida, might have had on the Obama "train" to victory.
But Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committee were determined to put the days of Bill and Hillary Clinton into history's rearview mirror. The party brass knew darn well that denying Clinton her biggest and most likely early prize would turn things upside down. She was doomed before she started.
Now Clinton battles on, limping her way through Southern states that really no longer matter. She can't prevent her campaign's inevitable doomsday meeting with the deluge of uncommitted "super delegates," including the great "peacemaker" himself, Jimmy Carter. He will soon issue his edict from on high: Off with Hillary's head!
Barack Obama, barring unforeseen happenings, will be the hero of the new Democratic Party. The Kennedy family has been in great fear that they might lose their "Democratic royalty" title to a Clinton clan with two presidents in the family. Now the Kennedys can breathe easier.
Now what will happen? The answer is -- nobody knows. Nobody.
Some polls show the septuagenarian Sen. John McCain leading Obama, while others show it the other way around. Of course, national popular vote, taken as a collective whole, means nothing. It's a state-by-state race.
Looking to the key swing states, it's hard to tell whether the weight of eight years of George W. Bush, amplified by a fair amount of Bush-like rhetoric from McCain, will move voters in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and other states to reject another four years of Republican rule.