Just how badly might a weak economy hurt Republican presidential candidates—and help Democrats—in 2008? To find out, I rang up Ray Fair, an economics professor at Yale University. He's known for his political forecasting model that incorporates economic data as a big factor in predicting which party will win the White House. Right now, Fair told me, if you assume the economy stays relatively healthy—basically buying the White House forecast—his model is predicting a Democratic win in 2008 with 52 percent of the two-party vote. But if there's a recession, then the Democrats' share would rise to 55 percent. Now Fair correctly predicted Bush would win in 2004, but with 54.6 percent of the vote rather than the 51.2 percent he actually got. Fair guesses that there is perhaps a 3-point Iraq-related penalty assessed by voters that his model isn't catching. Add that to the Dems' vote total, and you end up with a landslide for Hillary, Obama, or Edwards. Let me add this: His model certainly reflects the conventional wisdom inside the beltway. Here is the most recent take of Greg Valliere, political analyst over at the Stanford Group: "The overall message this summer is that the stars are increasingly in alignment for 2008 to be the Democrats' year, which raises this intriguing contrarian thought: Will the Democrats overplay their hand? It appears to us that only the Democrats can stop the Democrats, but we think Hillary Clinton—coached by the master triangulator, her husband—won't let that happen."