As if the 2008 election wasn’t long enough, 2012 seems already afoot:

It’s been six months since voters handed Barack Obama the White House, and in the minds of a lot of Iowa activists that means only one thing: It’s time to start the campaign again.

2012 already?

Yes, 2 1/2 years before Iowans gather for their first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses, early presidential campaigning has begun.

“We had a brief pause for two or three months when people went somewhere warm, and then it starts again,” said Richard Schwarm, a Lake Mills lawyer and former state Republican Party chairman. “Most of the old war horses hear the bell and start responding again.”

Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee have already been through the Hawkeye State, and Nevada’s John Ensign and Haley Barbour are planning visits, along with Huckabee making a second appearance.

But certainly, it’s just coincidence they happen to be in Iowa! Right?

Of course, politicians typically say their stops in Iowa aren’t related to any presidential ambitions.

Ensign, for example, will speak as part of a conservative lecture series designed to define the Republican Party heading into next year’s congressional elections. Huckabee will be the draw at a fundraiser for Bob Vander Plaats, a likely candidate for governor.

Phil Roeder, chief spokesman for the Iowa Democratic Party during the 1988 election cycle, said there’s a long tradition of politicians traveling to Iowa to help others.

“It’s the smoke screen,” Roeder said. “Every candidate has to keep the expectations in check and at the same time it’s a great way to make friends in Iowa. If you’re here to help others and not just help yourself, it gives you a good list to go back to when it’s your turn.”

PD is checking into reports that Joe Biden has scheduled several visits to Iowa, in preparation for his 2016 Presidential run.