As I have watched the NHL Stanley Cup Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks (I am a long time Detroit Red Wings fan, but they are long gone from playoffs), a thought occurred to me about the unfolding GOP nomination battle for president.
This Stanley Cup final pitting a Midwestern team from the Great Lakes against a team from Florida really sends us a signal of what is likely to unfold in the GOP playoffs next year.
As of today, I would guess the nomination fight is going to come down to a battle between the governors of the Great Lakes and the political machines of Florida. Right now, it looks like the winner will emerge from either the coast of the Great Lakes with Governors Walker (Wisconsin) and Kasich (Ohio) leading the charge or from the coast of Florida with former Governor Bush and U.S. Senator Rubio manning that state.
Much will adjust along the way and there will be many disruptive events occurring throughout the next year, but it really seems this nomination battle will ultimately come down to a Great Lakes vs. Florida matchup.
Can this change because of the emergence of other players in the field, or a surprising showing by someone from the Red River region (Arkansas and Texas)? Absolutely. With former Gov. Huckabee of Arkansas having a strong base of support among social conservatives, and the folks with ties to Texas (Senators Cruz and Paul, former Governor Perry, and former CEO Fiorina)also running strong campaigns, anything can happen.
Acknowledging the disruptive nature of this race and the fact there is no frontrunner, it seems the best bet is a showdown at some point next year between the Great Lakes and Florida. There four candidates each have incredible strengths and weaknesses, and we still have to gauge their performance on the trail over time to know for sure their capacities. And within each of those jurisdictions there will be regional infighting among the players. There seems to be only room for one conservative governor from the Midwest so Walker and Kasich will see each other as in the way. And Bush and Rubio look like they undercut each other in Florida and elsewhere with ultimately only one able to emerge to get into the finals.
So as you watch the Lightning and Blackhawks finish up their series in the next ten days, get ready for another Great Lakes vs Florida final coming your way in the next ten months -- and the gloves will definitely come off.
There you have it.
Matthew Dowd, Founder of ListenTo.Us, is an ABC News analyst and special correspondent. Opinions expressed in this column do not reflect the views of ABC News.