New Year's resolutions should be alternatively labeled "things you're not about to do in this lifetime or any other." Expectations and hope are high - too high - for the extreme resolutions we make to actually work. "I'm going to lose 100 pounds!" "I'm going to stop smoking!" "I'm going to go to the gym every day!" "I'm going to write a book!" Not to be a buzz kill, but . . . forget about it.
But I digress. (My New Year's resolution: I'm going to stop digressing.)
Just like the unreasonable expectations we're stuck with after making not well thought out New Year's resolutions, there are some equally unreasonable hopes and expectations in the blogosphere regarding 2014 politics. Nothing wrong with hoping, and working toward that hope - but the let-down when our hopes don't come to pass (case in point: Romney and Co. being convinced they were winning, causing a royal meltdown in the Romney household when they lost - big), triggers quite a few not very pretty emotions.
But positive thinking prevails, here - so here are a few predictions for 2014, and specifically for the 2014 mid-terms, which I believe are rooted in reality:
- The tea party is going to continue to weaken and, before the year is over, disappear almost entirely as any type of a political force - we will not see a repeat of the 2010 mid-terms, which, thanks to the efforts of the tea party and the attendant right-wing money machine, swept in a bunch of rookie freshman tea partying House Republicans. As of December 2013, the tea party's approval ratings were at the lowest point ever. Speaker of the House John Boehner - despite what might on the surface appear to be alliance with the tea party-driven House - has been quietly removing conservatives from powerful positions; and just this month, Boehner was quoted as saying that tea party groups have "lost all credibility." Karl Rove, for most of the year, has been lobbying against tea party extremists with his Conservative Victory Project, and recently the Chamber of Commerce has weighed in, vowing that there would be "no fools on our ticket" (which, actually, pretty much knocks out every Republican incumbent in the House).
- Nate Silver, the political stats guru, is warning that the 2014 mid-term elections could end up tilting toward Republicans in the Senate: As he pointed out, "Montana along with West Virginia and South Dakota — two other red states where an incumbent Democrat has retired and where the Democrats have not identified a strong candidate to replace them – gives Republicans a running start. Republicans could then win three more seats from among red states like Louisiana and Arkansas, where vulnerable Democratic incumbents are on the ballot, or they could take aim at two purple states, Iowa and Michigan, where Democrats have retired . . . ." My prediction: Thought it might be close, I agree with Walker Bragman of HuffPo - that Dems will keep the Senate; and my second prediction is that McConnell, despite the struggles he faces over his lack of popularity, will ultimately beat Grimes in Kentucky. Too bad, because I would have paid money (and still would) to see him lose.
- While crazier things have happened, it's not likely the Dems will regain control of the House in the 2014 mid-terms - on that I agree with Nate Silver. Nate Silver noted in the National Review that Dems winning back the House in 2014 "will require not just a pretty good year for Democrats, but a wave election," which, as Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post noted, rarely happens: "First, the past: In midterm elections during a president’s second term — some call it the 'six-year itch' election — since 1912, the party that holds the White House has lost an average of 29 seats in the House. Democrats probably won’t lose anywhere near that many, but it would take a historic election for them to make the sort of gains they need to win the House." And while it's true that Republican approval ratings are in the sewer, Dems aren't doing much better. The one thing that could, in my view, tip the scales toward Dems would be if Republicans continue with their opposition to extending unemployment benefits for the millions whose benefits ended on December 28th - polls indicate that Republicans could put some of their House seats at risk with this gambit.
- In the end House Republicans will extend unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed, but not without exacting a price from Dems - the price being, as Boehner said, budget cuts elsewhere and job growth guarantees. It seems that House Republicans have decided to pretend to care about jobs this week.
It's a new year. Anything can happen.