The dynamics of the 2008 Presidential Race have changed dramatically over the past six months due to the avalanche of large and more populous states changing their presidential preference primaries to February 5th. This historic altering means that in about six months from now you will probably know who the Republican and Democratic nominees will be for the November 2008 Presidential Election.

How does this affect and change the process? It preempts the small states of New Hampshire and Iowa and makes them irrelevant. The largest states in the nation, New York, Illinois, California and Florida, have moved their primaries to February 5th and as a result they have moved to the front of the bus. Those states will pick the party nominees.

Alabama has also joined the chorus of states moving to February 5th. We will be more important than if we had not moved from June to February, but we will not be the lead dog. However, we will attract the same amount of attention as South Carolina and Georgia who have also moved up their primary date. Alabama will be an equal bellwether barometer with the Palmetto and Peach states to gauge how a candidate will do in the six Deep South states.

The campaigning will change significantly in the upcoming fall months leading up to the February primaries. Instead of trudging through the leaves and snow of New Hampshire and knocking on every farmhouse door in Iowa the candidates will be busy dialing for dollars. They will be gathering ammunition, otherwise known as dollars, to be able to mount a media campaign in the very expensive media markets of California and New York.

This move to big states having the marbles sends the “also-rans” packing. This big state game makes it a big stakes game. The old maxims of “money is the mother’s milk of politics” and “money begets money” become more meaningful than ever. You couple the big money advantage with the already inherent name identification the frontrunners have and the current favorites look almost unbeatable.

The Democratic nomination is a two person race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary would have to be the favorite. She has national name identification and a national organization base built by husband Bill. Hillary has to be helped by the fact that New York is her home state where she is a sitting senator, plus California was Clinton’s best state both times he ran.

Obama will give her a good race. He is brilliant and will surprise her. In fact he already has with his fundraising prowess. Obama has the charisma, enthusiasm, and momentum for change to pull off an upset. It will be interesting to watch.

John Edwards has spent the past four years getting to know every Iowan and Granite State voter personally. The change kills him. Chriss Dodd and Joe Biden are both very well qualified to be President, but neither will be a factor. Bill Richardson, the outstanding Hispanic Governor of New Mexico, will run a respectful race and may well be Hillary’s choice for vice-president if she prevails.

The Republican race is wide open. However, Rudy Giuliani is by far the biggest benefactor of the change to big states. California and New York are immensely more liberal than the rest of the nation. Even the Republican voters in these states are progressive and more accepting of Giuliani’s unorthodox social positions. He is in lock step with Democrats Clinton and Obama when it comes to gay marriage, abortion, and gun control. Giuliani is basically a democrat running as a republican. If Giuliani is the GOP nominee he could win. You could have a subway series fight between two New Yorkers, Hillary vs. Rudy.

John McCain is still alive but seems to be fading. Mitt Romney has raised a lot of money but his convenient conversion on abortion and gay rights has made him look wishy-washy and weak and he remains in single digits. Latecomer Fred Thompson could catch fire and come on to be the nominee. Thompson, on the Republican side, and Obama, on the Democratic side, could derail the frontrunners and pull off the upset. However, the big states moving to the front of the primary schedule gives the advantage to the New Yorkers, Clinton and Giuliani.

Where does Alabama fit into the mix? I would predict that Tennessee neighbor Fred Thompson will carry Alabama in the primary, with McCain second, and Giuliani third. The Democratic contest in Alabama will be a horserace between Clinton and Obama and will be too close to call. Even though polling data shows Alabamians are currently 50/50 on party allegiance, I would still have to bet that Alabama will vote for the Republican nominee for President, regardless of who they choose.