The Washington Post

Hey, it’s an election year! Here’s what 2014 might bring.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect figure for the number of people who have enrolled for health-care insurance via


Our long wait for a packed election year — okay, it was just a 365-day wait — will be over in less than 48 hours when we ring in 2014 and, with it, 36 gubernatorial races, 35 Senate races and dozens of potentially competitive House contests.

So, with the remaining few hours we have left in 2013, let’s make some fearless predictions about politics in 2014. (Note: Fearless does not mean foolproof. We occasionally swing and miss, so if you are on the wrong end of one of these predictions, take that caveat as some solace.)

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House. View Archive

The Senate majority will come down to North Carolina and Louisiana. If you assume that Republicans have takeovers in South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana strongly in hand (and, at the moment, they do) and that Arkansas and Alaska are going to be very tough holds for Democrats based on the underlying demographics of the two states, then the GOP stands at a five-seat pickup. Republicans need six to retake the Senate majority, which means that they must find a way to unseat Mary Landrieu (La.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) or both.

Try this one for a delicious possibility: Republicans gain five seats on election night while no one gets 50 percent in the open primary in Louisiana on that same night. That would mean the top two vote-getters — Landrieu and probably Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) would advance to a runoff Dec. 6. That means there would be a month-long race that would decide control of the Senate for the next two years. Yes, that could happen.

Republicans will hold the House. Democrats insist that no one knows what the electoral landscape will look like in a year’s time — and they’re right. But the past and the present argue against their picking up the 17 seats they need to win back the House majority. 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. Now, the present: The chamber’s 435 seats have been redistricted within an inch of their partisan lives, making it very difficult — even in a wave election — for them to switch parties. (Just 77 of the 435 members who won in 2012 did so with less than 55 percent of the vote.) A narrow playing field works against Democrats.

●Obamacare will be the issue of 2014. The Obama administration unveiled new enrollment numbers Sunday, showing that 1.1 million people have signed up for insurance plans via since Oct. 1.

Those numbers are a vast improvement from the fumbles of the rollout of the Web site and may well mitigate some of the near-term issues that the White House and Democrats more generally have experienced in relation to the Affordable Care Act. But no matter how successful the law looks by November, you can be certain that Republicans will center their campaigns on opposition to the law. There are two reasons for this:

First, a midterm election is in large part about turning out your base — and no issue revs up the Republican base like health care. Eighty-eight percent of Republicans disapprove of how President Obama has handled the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, with 77 percent (!) “strongly” disapproving, in a December Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Second, the fact that Obama’s statement that “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” wound up not being true is a Republican admaker’s dream. Ending Spending, a conservative outside group, has put out ads attacking Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) over her support for the health-care law, using Obama’s words against her. “If you like your senator, you can keep her,” the narrator intones. “If not, you know what to do.” Ouch. There will be thousands more ads just like that one before the election cycle is over.

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Show Comments
Republicans debated Saturday night. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Post's Dan Balz says...
Rarely has the division between Trump and party elites been more apparent. Trump trashed one of the most revered families in Republican politics and made a bet that standing his ground is better than backing down. Drawing boos from the audience, Trump did not flinch. But whether he will be punished or rewarded by voters was the unanswerable question.
GOP candidates react to Justice Scalia's death
I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish.
Sen. Marco Rubio, attacking Sen. Ted Cruz in Saturday night's very heated GOP debate in South Carolina. Soon after, Cruz went on a tirade in Spanish.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
The State's Andy Shain says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
67% 22%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

March 6: Democratic debate

on CNN, in Flint, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

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