Salena Zito, one of my favorite columnists, has written a magnificent column titled “The certainty of political uncertainty.” It’s possibly the best writing I’ve seen from Ms. Zito, which is saying alot. Here’s the first key portion of Salena’s column:

Not much is certain in politics. Not exit polls, forecasts or punditry. Yet one thing that is for certain, coming out of New Hampshire, is that the 2008 presidential race remains very much up in the air.

“Look at what has happened so far,” says George F. Will, the conservative columnist. “The very idea that money is all-powerful was struck down with Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire; the idea that organization is all-powerful was struck down by Huckabee. “And with the Democrats we learned that the Clintons can top momentum in just about eight hours,” he added. “So, in other words, just about anything can and will happen.”

Finally, a columnist that admits this race likely will have several more twists and turns and that “just about anything can and will happen.” I wrote here that Dick Morris’ analysis wasn’t wise analysis because he’s saying that McCain is the favorite to win the nomination.

As near as I can tell, that prediction isn’t based on the map of winner-take-all states. Many of those states are states that Rudy has a big advantage in: California, New York, New Jersey, the New England states (now that New Hampshire is out of the way).

If Fred Thompson wins South Carolina, that will be another major twist on the way to the nominating convention here in Minnesota. Fred’s the truest conservative in the race, followed by Rudy. He’s got tons of gravitas, appeals to each of the major wings of the party (fiscal, judicial and social conservatism) and he has impeccable national security credentials besides.

Here’s another astute observation Salena makes:

Will’s comments speak to not just the results in New Hampshire, where the Barack Obama-Hillary Clinton race came to a stunning (mostly to pundits) conclusion, but, in a larger sense, to the entire field of presidential candidates. No clear winners have attached themselves to either party’s base.

Nobody in either party has their base falling for them. Hillary’s had her problems because of her vote to authorize the war. McCain’s dance with death on McCain-Kennedy, McCain-Feingold and the Gang of 14 are the reasons why I can’t see him getting the nomination. Rudy’s pro-choice stance won’t help him with some social conservatives, although I suspect not as much as the pundits would have you believe. Mitt Romney’s being labeled a flip-flopper was deserved, which is why there isn’t any passionate support for Mitt.

Had Thursday’s Fred shown up in Iowa in September, this might be another story. With Fred’s gravitas, personality and national security credentials, he would’ve given social conservatives reason to ignore Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney and national security hawks reason to choose him over McCain and Rudy.

Here’s the final observation Salena makes that’s worth keeping in mind the rest of the way, at least through Super Tuesday:

Being undecided walking into the voting booth was the norm in New Hampshire, not the exception. If that trend persists nationally, then there may not be any clear winner for either party at the end of primary season.

Keep one last thing in mind: anyone that says they know how this turns out is kidding you. They don’t because this is the year of fluidity.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

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