Georgetown University historian Michael Kazin at Open University corrects the New York Times‘s reporting that the 2008 race is off to a “breathtakingly early start”:

“In fact, since the dawn of mass parties in the 1820s, American politics–and presidential politics, in particular–has always been aggressively entrepreneurial. And, as with most markets, the personal sales effort rarely takes a break.

“During the winter of 1826-7, Martin Van Buren was already organizing furiously to avenge Andrew Jackson’s unjust defeat in the previous [1824] election. William Henry Harrison began touring key states over a year before the 1836 election. After narrowly losing to Van Buren [in that year], the 64-year-old military hero was soon on the road again. He knew, after all, that his party rivals Henry Clay and Daniel Webster were doing it too.”