Reference check: Obama announced his 2008 candidacy in the beginning of May 2007. Theoretically, then, Hillary Clinton probably has an entire year until she needs to do anything — she might actually have more time, because the brand is so well-known — and thus, while she seemingly wants to “decide” this year (2014), the actual announcement may be next spring (2015), still giving her almost a full year until Iowa. In sum, then: there’s no real rush, although the dynamics could get a little tricky:
“She is the prohibitive favorite, but the dynamics of the race change the longer someone waits. So the question is how long can she wait,” said Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and a veteran of the Wesley Clark 2004 and John Edwards 2008 presidential campaigns.
“If she gets in early, she sucks up the oxygen, the money, and the grassroots. She could basically kill the field.”
Logically, it seems like the only announcement she should make this summer or early next fall is that she’s not running — in order to give other Democrats (Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley, et al) a head start at getting after it. That seems only fair, especially since her husband is the living “old-school face” of that party.
If she is announcing, after the midterm elections — and you can spin it either way (good week for Democrats/bad week for Democrats) — would seem one likely time. She has been getting a bit coquettish with the answers around “Will you do it?” — like at the Marketo Marketing Conference — so you know something could be close (not tomorrow close, but relatively close).
It does appear she has the essential elements of the stump speech down right now, which is another sign we could be within about a year of an official announcement.
I can’t possibly venture a guess, but “mid-November 2014” — post-midterms + gives families everywhere a chance to discuss it at Thanksgiving — is one option, as is “March 2015.” Either way, she has a head start and you may see a situation where there’s no real primary.