In what is probably the most interesting and, from a GOP perspective, one of the most damaging campaigns since young Barry Goldwater hedged on civil rights and heaped praise on the John Birch Society in 1964, anyone who now says they KNOW what will happen in November, 2016, is either out of their mind or on someone’s bloviator payroll.

Readers are thus hereby warned that here at “Red vs Blue” we’re paid double for columns on national politics, and nothing for our usual sharp insights. Were it not all spread across the county on our roads after the recent non-political storm, we would thus recommend ingesting the following with the usual grain of salt.

The Democrats

Poor Martin O’Malley.

He , like most of the world of special political insights for sale or rent , never guessed that an avowed democratic socialist would not only make himself heard, but threaten to take both Iowa and New Hampshire.  And even without Bernie in the race, O’Malley never, ever, had a prayer against Hillary Clinton.

Poor Hillary.

She thought that she’d only have to face down the usual litany of right wing propaganda directed at progressives in general and uppity women in particular, enhanced by rants about Benghazi, emails, Bill, and pant-suits.

She never guessed that an avowed democratic socialist would not only make himself heard, but threaten to take both Iowa and New Hampshire.

And that leaves . . . Bernie.  He KNEW that an avowed democratic socialist could not only make himself heard, but threaten to take both Iowa and New Hampshire.  And that’s where he stands.

Its sad for Democrats in general, and liberals in particular, to see Hillary and Bernie taking pot shots at each other, especially when none of them is “true” in any meaningful sense of the term.  Sanders is “soft” on gun control?  He “threatens” Obamacare?  Nonsense.  Hillary is a warmonger, leaves her troops on the beach, and is a tool of Wall Street to boot?  Nonsense.

The GOP will attack Hillary with the same tools and techniques they used “swift boat” Kerry, make Dukakis look soft on crime, and portray Jimmy Carter as an ignorant peanut farmer.  Unfortunately, such tactics work.

Bernie, who should have branded himself a “Social Democrat” in the best traditions of the British Labour Party, or Germany’s SPD, or even FDR at his best, is already being smeared as a “Maoist-Stalinist-Pol Pot communist.”

Such tactics work, and have cost our country dearly.

I’d be happy with either Democrat in the White house.  Sadly, I fear, they are both vulnerable.

The Republicans

Happily for the Democrats (and, in the long run, for the country), the GOP seems to be ranting itself apart.

Poor JEB.

He never guessed that an avowed New York Developer would not only make himself heard, threaten to take both Iowa and New Hampshire, and in the process transform Bush’s image as “the smart one” into that of the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

On the other hand, Donald Trump, the quintessential Ugly American, continues to dominate the news and the party, oozing disdain and supporting his contempt for any and all by simply shouting down those who dare to point out his all too obvious flaws.

Some of my best friends (where have we heard that before), highly respected, long-term, active, loyal, hard-working and (yes) ethical mainstream Republicans are already telling me privately that if Trump prevails in the  GOP nomination race, they will vote for Hillary.

Ted Cruz is worse than Trump.

A combination of Mussolini, tail-gunner Joe McCarthy, Robert Welch, the Birchers, and Sarah Palin with an Ivy League vocabulary, Ted’s major function at the moment appears to be to make Trump look like the lesser of two evils.

He may succeed.

“Chris” Christie couldn’t win his own state and carries as much easy-to-exaggerate baggage as Hillary.

Marco Rubio.  Marco Rubio.

Ted Cruz with manners.  Visually compelling and a good orator, but hard to take seriously, especially in high heels.

The rest will all go home after New Hampshire.  And if they don’t, their donors will.

Will there be a brokered GOP convention?  We hope so.  But which candidate would they choose?

A late-entering  Michael Bloomberg?

I don’t think so.

Most folks think he’s a Democrat and, to paraphrase Ted Cruz, only communists, developers and other “disordered persons” come outta New York.

Some other distinguished Republican leader?

A great idea, if only the past seven years had produced one.

Where’s John Boehner when they need him?

Will the Democrats actually choose Bernie?

Highly doubtful.

Old hands fear too much danger of a George-McGovern-level landslide for the GOP.

But . . . who knows?

Best guess at this point?

Hillary vs Trump, with the outcome, sadly for all of us, too close to call.