Trying to come up with a final column of the year to sum everything up is never easy. Sometimes, I've gone the "awards" route, and in other years, I've looked to the future. But this year, I thought I'd experiment with a tribute of sorts to Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" with the twist, "50 ways I learned from 2006."
Attention media elitists: Alabama may be home to former state Supreme Court judge Roy Moore, but that doesn't mean state Republicans bring God with them to the voting booth.
Alaska wanted change, but not the past -- former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles. It wanted the future -- Republican Gov.-elect Sarah Palin. A lesson for legacies running in '08?
Although Arizona is filled with swing voters, they won't buy into a candidate who says he's "independent" but whose previous job was state party chair.
Democrats should still believe in a place called Hope, because Arkansas is still bluer than the rest of the South.
It's a pretty simple formula for statewide success in California: The moderate Democratic general-election nominee will always triumph. Congrats to Arnold Shriver.
Democrats ought not get cocky in Colorado. Their recent success has everything to do with the party nominating more centrist candidates.
Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I/D) victory wasn't so surprising. In the end, he became an outsider -- and in Connecticut, just like everywhere else, voters deemed the outsider more interesting.
To paraphrase the great ?90s philosopher Wayne Campbell, "Hi, this column is now stuck in Delaware." Sorry, I couldn't find much wisdom in Beau Biden's (D) victory in the attorney general's race.
When will Democrats ever learn re: Florida? By writing it off in '06, they've only made winning the state in '08 close to impossible.
Watch out, South Carolina. Georgia may very well be the reddest state in the South by the end of '08.
Imagine if outgoing Rep. Ed Case (D) had run for the Senate as an independent? Hawaii general election voters probably would have sent Daniel Akaka (D) into retirement.
Republicans looking to figure out their libertarian issues ought to study Idaho before it's too late even there.
Sometimes a party's problem in a state is self-fulfilling. The GOP's troubles in Illinois aren't nearly as bad as the recent results indicate -- the party just needs to purge itself of its current elected leaders.
Although Indiana may have lost a favorite son in the presidential race with Sen. Evan Bayh's (D) decision, GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels had better hope he didn't gain a new, tough, potential foe.
As Republican pollster Glen Bolger told us months ago, when Republicans have a cold nationally, Iowa Republicans usually have the flu.
What's changed more: Kansas' ideology or the Republican Party's?
What if it isn't just the grass that's blue in Kentucky?
We'll know in 10 months just how many Democrats Louisiana lost.
If outgoing Sen. Linc "My Name Is Gold" Chafee (R) couldn't survive in Rhode Island, how is someone like Sen. Susan Collins (R) supposed to in Maine?
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is proof positive that a Democrat literally has to run a campaign into the ground in Maryland to lose.
The two biggest signs that this country has moved beyond race: Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr.'s (D) surprising 48 percent in his Senate race and incoming Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick's (D) ability to carry South Boston. What Jim Rice wouldn't give to wear a Red Sox uniform in this century's Massachusetts.
A state Democrats haven't lost since '88 will be more in play than ever before in '08: Michigan.
Since outgoing Rep. Mark Kennedy's showing was the worst for a Senate-seeking Republican in Minnesota in a half-century, GOP Sen. Norm Coleman might want to see if he still has Democratic credentials stashed away in storage somewhere.
Not only can I spell Mississippi without any eyes, but I can still spell it without any "D"s.
I've been a believer that Missouri was on its way to permanent red status, but given the current governor's '08 vulnerabilities and the effective populist message incoming Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) sold, the state showed me it's still the country's bellwether.
Attention White House Democrats: Looking for one way to make liberal bloggers swoon? Propose Montana's Gov. Brian Schweitzer as a running mate.
Does Sen. Ben Nelson's (D) blowout win prove the more conservative candidate always wins in Nebraska?
When will Senate Majority Leader-to-be Harry Reid (D) make it his responsibility to rescue the Nevada Democratic Party from its current funk?
Is New Hampshire simply a suburb of Boston now? Sen. John Sununu (R) says no, but we'll find out in 2008.
It's going on 20 years since the last time a Republican presidential candidate received more than 50 percent in New Jersey.
The most underrated swing state in the country is New Mexico.
Incoming Gov. Eliot Spitzer has toned down his Wall Street bashing, which is odd since that's now all the rage in the Democratic Party. Spitzer will be an interesting non-player in these New York-heavy presidential sweepstakes.
Just asking: Could a populist like John Edwards get elected in the new economy-succeeding North Carolina?
Some day I'll understand exactly what happened in the Dakotas that caused the North and South to split.
While Missouri may be in play for '08, Democrats should examine those House race losses in the 1st and 15th districts and realize Ohio will be no easier to win in '08 than it was in '04.
The sooner we finish this sentence on Oklahoma, the faster we'll finish this column.
Someday Republicans will figure out why they can't win anymore in Oregon.
You read it here first: Republicans will not seriously contest Pennsylvania in 2008.
I'm already tired of the Whitehouse-White House jokes in Rhode Island.
South Carolina is getting so conservative that it may just pull a Kansas. What does that mean? A Democrat will only win statewide when the GOP nominates someone too far to the right.
South Dakota is determined to be the center of our congressional-control universe.
Tennessee is not racist for not electing Harold Ford Jr.; they just elected the candidate that most reflected their values. If Ford gets married, he'll be a senator.
Most underreported story of 2006: the surprising weakness of the GOP brand in Texas.
For you "Fletch" fans out there, the story is Utah, Frank.
Do you realize that no Democrat has held the Senate seat Bernie Sanders (I) is about to hold in Vermont... ever?
On Nov. 8, 2006, the Commonwealth of Virginia officially seceded from the Confederacy.
As long as the war is the issue, the Washington GOP ought to go on sabbatical.
How do the Democrats get their populist gene back and then not seriously contest West Virginia's lone GOP house seat?
If there's one state John Kerry won in 2004 that is teetering more than Wisconsin in '08, I don't know what it is.
Wyoming? Why not.
Thanks for indulging me this year. If this column was a bit too much to digest, realize that you have an extra week to read it. See you in January.