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.
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“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).
President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.