It is often said that the presidential election starts the day after the midterm elections. We are there now, and soon all eyes will be on the 2012 presidential race.
President Barack Obama is a good campaigner. So he was much in the political fray in the midterm elections. Two years from now, he will do the same for himself, if he wants to keep his job.
Political analyst Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia said, "He better pray the economy gets better and fast" while noting that a bad economy dooms a president's chance for second term. That's especially true now with fewer allies in Congress.
Or perhaps not, says Reid Wilson of National Journal's Hotline. "It is always good when any president can run against something."
Another variable - the new brew flavoring Republican Party politics - the burgeoning Tea Party movement.
Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a Tea Party darling. Here's what she told "Entertainment Tonight" about topping the ballot in the next run for the White House. "If there's no one else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this."
Political analyst John Fortier of the American Enterprise Institute said, "I think she's done well by herself in the last six months, shown a kind of political savvy that people were doubting that she had."
But Wilson says loving Palin's politics is not the same as wanting her to lead the nation. "Sarah Palin has not built the kind of team to run a presidential contest. Mitt Romney has that team. Mike Pence has that team."
Current events often shape, sometimes misshape, presidential politics. The economy. War. Terrorism. The unknown.
Michael Franc from the Heritage Foundation said, "We don't know yet what skill set the voters will demand, will be front and center in a nominee for president."
The race could start before the end of the year. In the last presidential campaign, Democrat John Edwards announced his candidacy less than two months after the midterm elections.