Thursday, February 28, 2013

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Where The Action Will Be In 2014

It might be unpleasant to say it, but in less than a year, the U.S.
will already be deeply involved in another national election.

The occupant in the Oval Office will not be running this time,
and if history is any guide, by late 2014 he will be a “lame duck”
with diminishing influence.

Nor is it likely that control of the U.S. house will be at stake,
considering how current reapportionment protects most
incumbents, including the Democrats in most of the nation’s
cities, and the larger number of Republicans in most of the
exurban and rural areas.

What will be at stake is control of the U.S. senate and a
significant number of governorships across the country.  In
the senate races, many more Democratic incumbents are
running for re-election, and are vulnerable. Republicans need
to win six Democratic seats to gain control, and 10-12 now
seem potentially at play. The advantage in the gubernatorial
races, however, is with the Democrats. Not only are there
many more GOP incumbent races, many more Republican
governors (or their successor candidates if they are
term-limited or retire) potentially have close races next year.

A sub-theme of these elections will also be the 2016
presidential election, like it or not.  The presidential
nominations for both major parties will be open that year,
and likely very competitive. Nominees usually emerge from
the U.S. senate and the nation’s governors, either current or
former. Current  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,
former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, current Virginia
Senator Mark Warner are among many names already
seriously being circulated and promoted on the Democratic
side; Current Florida Senator Marco Rubio, current New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and current Louisiana
Governor Bobby Jindal are among many names being put
forward for the Republicans.

It is very, very early in the 2016 race, of course, but it is
nevertheless likely that the 2014 elections will set the stage
for the direction the nation will go after two Obama
administration terms (just as the 2006 elections signaled
the outcome in 2008).

The prospect for the duration of 2013 is for political
stalemate on most issues, especially economic ones. There
is a lot of scrambling for political “position” and ‘branding”
going on in the nation’s capital, and an obsessive
preoccupation with public relations aimed at short-term
leverage and advantage, but it is not at all clear whether
Obamanomics and Obamacare will work or not. Much of
the “action” for some time has been in the states as
conservative and liberal governors (and legislatures) have
attempted to innovate and program alternative and
competitive solutions to the problems facing U.S. society
in the prolonged economic downturn.

Democrats are hoping that recent stock market gains
correctly anticipate a rebound of the U.S. economy, and
predict an end to the prolonged unemployment,and that the
strategy of "taxing the rich" and public spending is the
solution to current problems. Republicans continue to point
out that higher taxes and continued federal deficits make the
goal shared by all problematic. The next 9-12 months should
signal which side of this debate is more accurate than the other.

The 2014 national elections will therefore be only an interim
decision, but after six years of heated and protracted debate, an
impatient electorate might signal a longer-term political direction.

Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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