Shamanic will be covering the venal reasons of Sen. Trent Lott's (R-MS) leaking of his plans to announce his retirement in a couple of minutes, but I want to just take a look at the atmospherics of his announcement as another potential leading indicator of the 2008 race.
He is currently the #2 Republican in a very safe seat. The #1 Republican Senator Mitch McConnel (R-KY) looks like he will be in for at least a solid second tier challenge this cycle which means his power and influence will be proportionally scaled back as he needs to focus on his own seat instead of helping more marginal candidates and incumbents. Typically that would mean other powerful Senators such as Sen. Lott would be able to accumulate relative power in the next caucus as more people would owe them favors.
Given the current situation and projections of significant gains in the Senate for Democrats, being an enhanced #2 guy in a weak caucus is not a whole lot of fun. However it is a pretty good position to be in no matter what as 2012 looks to be a good Republican year due to reversion to the mean snapback against weaker Democratic incumbents. Yet Lott has chosen to retire and start lobbying instead.
While I do not expect his seat to be that competetive absent a massive Macaca moment, this is yet another senior Republican bailing out because he is forecasting that the next couple of years will not be that rewarding or that fun as he'll be in a weak minority with constant worries about defections from a minimal filibuster coalition.