On Friday, we shared what we learned in 2013. Today, for our final issue of the year, we look forward to 2014 with our Fearless Predictions for the year ahead.
-- No Senate incumbent will lose a primary: Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) is the most vulnerable, with outside groups lining up quickly behind his conservative challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R). But Cochran, 76, seemed energized by the challenge when he announced he'd run again. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) faces Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), but Schatz put some distance between the two in third-quarter fundraising, a sign that he may be consolidating Democratic support. We think former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land's (R) chances to become the first Republican to win a Senate race in Michigan since 1994 are increasing.
-- Democrats will mount a strong challenge in the Kansas gubernatorial race: Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and conservatives have wrestled control of the state GOP from a cadre of moderate Republicans in the mold of Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum. An automated-telephone poll this fall showed state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D) narrowly ahead of Brownback, and that was before a group of moderates announced they were forming a coalition to oppose Brownback's agenda, with some threatening to unite behind Davis. In other GOV races, we think Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's (D) luck holds, and he wins reelection despite low approval ratings. And we think Republicans underestimate Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) at their own peril.
-- Obama's approval rating won't rebound with a recovering economy: The unemployment rate in November is at its lowest point in five years, and yet President Obama remains mired in the low 40s. Voters tell pollsters that the economy is their No. 1 issue, but their perceptions of the economy are out of line with the overall data that show growing GDP and shrinking unemployment. Blame for that lies with growing inequality and increasing polarization.
That's just a small taste of what we're expecting in 2014. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year; we'll see you back here on January 2nd.