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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Early Predictions on the 2016 GOP Presidential Nomination

The extent to which the politics of the 2016 presidential nomination are already encroaching on the 2014 midterm elections is, indeed, quite something. Establishment Republicans worried about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's political viability now seem to be turning their attention back to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who in turn is not exactly spurning their flirtations.

The Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas—unofficially dubbed "the Sheldon Primary"—presided over by gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, provided a preview of, at least, the "Republican Establishment Bracket" within the party's presidential-nomination tournament. Present and speaking to the 400 or so prominent Republican Jewish donors were Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Bush spoke to a smaller, more elite subgroup, hosted by Adelson in his aircraft hangar.

Although some reports have suggested that Christie—whose presidential aspirations have taken on considerable water since the George Washington Bridge controversy—did well, his reference to Israeli "occupied territories" didn't help him any. This glitch should serve as a fair warning to other governors with presidential hopes that they should get their foreign policy lingo down before they torpedo their own potential candidacies.

While Bush has long ...

How 2014 Could Give the GOP False Hope

It's aggravating to read something really smart, something that I wish I had written myself. Amy Walter, my colleague at The Cook Political Report, recently wrote just such a piece—one about Republicans who worry privately that success in 2014 will leave their party with false hope for 2016: "Even though their party is poised to hold the House and has a good chance of winning control of the Senate, these Republican umbrella carriers aren't smiling. They worry that success in 2014 will mask the real, structural problems that Republicans need to fix before 2016. Namely, that the party doesn't stand for much more than standing against President Obama. As important, the GOP heads into 2016 with a brand that has been deeply tarnished and not easily repaired."

This is so true. If Republicans do gain a Senate majority, which they may very well do in November, and manage to pick up eight or more House seats, it will be because of who they are not, not because of who they are. They aren't in Obama's party, and they aren't in the party that unilaterally passed the Affordable Care Act, which, like the president ...

Six Ways Washington Will Stay the Same

Political aficionados like to look at elections the same way sports fans fill out their NCAA basketball brackets, assemble a fantasy football team, or play rotisserie baseball.

The real import is what the final governing configuration will be after Election Day: Which party will control the House? Who will hold a majority in the Senate? What will Congress look like for the remainder of President Obama's term? What kind of relationship will Obama have with Congress? How much political clout will the president have? Ultimately, these are the questions that really matter.

With this in mind, here are six assumptions that seem reasonably safe over the next few years.

1. The first, and the safest, is that the House will remain in Republican hands in 2016 and, quite likely, at least until 2022. After the 2020 decennial census and subsequent reapportionment and redistricting in 2021, all will be revisited again, but it would take some profound political developments for Republicans' hold on the chamber to change before then. Redistricting isn't the only reason for what has happened in the House, but it explains it well enough. The biggest question about 2014 is whether the GOP will score a ...

You Don't Need a Weatherman

The political chatter these days is about the special election in Florida's 13th Congressional District, which was held to fill the vacancy left by the late GOP Rep. Bill Young. The district is considered to be in a very competitive area of the country (indeed, President Obama won the 13th in 2012), and the seat was believed to be held securely by Republicans only by the strength of a longtime incumbent. The GOP had long feared that, without Young, it would have a difficult time holding the district. Even going into the campaign's final days, most observers thought Democrat Alex Sink, who came within an eyelash of being elected governor in 2010, would prevail over former Young aide David Jolly. This race was very important to Democrats in their push to maintain even the possibility of capturing the 17 seats needed for a House majority in 2014. To do so, they need to win competitive districts just like FL-13. While Sink was not considered a fabulous candidate, she was generally credited with being a superior candidate to Jolly, who toted the burdensome "lobbyist" label. Jolly's win—he took 48.5 percent to Sink's 46.7—is ...

Congressional Democrats Face Uphill Battle in Midterms

At this point, eight months before the Nov. 4 election, it’s hard to see a lot of good news for congressional Democrats.

No matter how you look at it, the House seems out of reach. Today, Republicans appear a bit more likely to gain than to lose seats; it would take a cataclysmic event for Democrats to score the net gain of the 17 seats they need to take the majority.

What’s changed is that Democrats’ chances of holding onto their majority in the Senate is looking increasingly tenuous. There are now at least 10, and potentially as many as 13, Democratic-held seats in jeopardy. By contrast, only two GOP seats are in any meaningful danger, and that number hasn’t changed in six months.

Things are starting to look grisly for Senate Democrats. President Obama’s approval ratings average 41 percent, basically where President George W. Bush’s poll numbers were at this point before his own disastrous 2006 second-term, midterm election. And the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative and policy achievement, is now even more unpopular than it was in October and November of 2010, when Democrats lost 63 seats, control of the House ...