Yes, it's early, but I'm ready to start handicapping the 2006 elections. I'm starting, naturally, with my home state of Missouri.
The advantage of incumbency dictates that most US Representatives who choose to run again will win easily. The possible exception is Sam Graves, the 6th District congresscritter. Graves is in his second term in a "conservative Democratic" district. He's still new enough that he has to work for re-election, and the right Democrat -- pro-gun, libertarian-leaning -- could take him out, especially given his tendency to vote not so much "conservative" as "flying-monkey Religious Right." I'm predicting (more out of hope than certainty) that the Democrats will regain that seat. Campaigns and Elections magazine's "political oddsmaker" gives him only a 60% chance of re-election, and his competitor hasn't even taken the field yet.
I'm far more certain about my US Senate prediction: Republican Jim Talent goes down hard, especially if Democrat Claire McCaskill seeks the seat. I'll probably be discussing why for some time to come, but suffice it to say that Talent's never won a race in which the Democrats were even nominally competitive ... and they will be next year. He spent four terms in the US House, representing a "safe" Republican district, then lost his bid for governor to the blandest candidate the Democrats have offered in recent memory in Missouri, then made it into the Senate by just barely defeating* an inexperienced incumbent (Jean Carnahan) who had been appointed to fill two years of her late husband's posthumously won term. Once again, Ye Olde Oddsmaker tells the tale: With the competition not even onstage yet, Talent is only favored by 4-3 for re-election. He's toast.
Hopefully, I'll be involved in one or more of the campaigns that fill these seats.
* I managed the campaign of Libertarian Tamara Millay (who, coincidentally, is my mate) for the seat that Talent won in 2002. Talent pulled it out by 1.3%, with Tamara polling 1%, mainly on the strength of her anti-war activism. I'd expected her to hit 2-3%, possibly even 5%, but it turned into a tight, tight race and pointing out Talent's anti-gun record didn't have nearly the impact we'd hoped for.