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.
What We're Following See More »
President Obama has announced another round of commutations of prison sentences. Most of the 58 individuals named are incarcerated for possessions with intent to distribute controlled substances. The prisoners will be released between later this year and 2018.
The Daily Beast has unearthed a piece that Donald Trump wrote for Gear magazine in 2000, which anticipates his 2016 sales pitch quite well. "Perhaps it's time for a dealmaker who can get the leaders of Congress to the table, forge consensus, and strike compromise," he writes. Oddly, he opens by defending his reputation as a womanizer: "The hypocrites argue that a man who loves and appreciates beautiful women (and does so legally and openly) shouldn't become a national leader? Is there something wrong with appreciating beautiful women? Don't we want people in public office who show signs of life?"
An aide to Mitt Romney confirmed to the Washington Post that the 2102 GOP nominee will not attend the Republican convention this year. He joins the two living Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as 2008 nominee John McCain in skipping the event. Even among living Republican nominees, that leaves only Bob Dole who could conceivably show up. Dole did say in January that he'd prefer Trump to Ted Cruz, but his age (92) could keep him from attending.
In a long-awaiting new rule, the Food and Drug Administration will ban sale of all tobacco products—including e-cigarettes—to those under 18. The rule takes effect in 90 days. It's part of a larger package of regulations that "gives FDA authority to regulate—but not to ban—all tobacco products, from e-cigarettes to cigars and hookahs." Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill on Wednesday that would bump the legal age to buy all tobacco products from 18 to 21.