My Fearless Political Predictions For 2015
GOP officials will forgo Iowa’s Ames Straw Poll, there will be a Supreme Court vacancy, and more.
Since Christmas and New Year’s Day both fell on a Thursday, wiping out my weekly columns in the name of holiday cheer, this is my first opportunity to rate the success of my 2014 predictions and offer new ones for 2015.
I got 13 political prognostications right for 2014. On Election Day, President Obama ’s disapproval was 54%, higher than his 53% at the start of the year. The GOP kept the House (but picked up 14 seats, not six as I suggested) and took the Senate (but with 54, not 51 as I feared).
Every Republican senator and virtually every congressman challenged as insufficiently conservative won their primaries. Democrats outspent Republicans in the midterms, roughly $1.87 billion to $1.84 billion.
Also correct: Republicans added statewide offices and state legislative seats and elected a more diverse group of candidates. Syria remains a moral stain on the administration, and Afghanistan wants an agreement to keep U.S. troops. Mr. Obama ramped up executive actions, big-time, with some successfully challenged in court. Republicans are debating how to unwind ObamaCare, which is costing more and covering fewer people than estimated.
Six predictions were wrong. Republicans did not lose two governorships on net; they added two. Kathleen Sebelius was not Health and Human Services secretary at year’s end. Democrats are not clamoring for major changes or delays in ObamaCare, although they may vote for some. Approval for ObamaCare averaged 38% in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls at the end of the year—not less than 30%. The Iranian nuclear deal hasn’t collapsed, though the administration keeps giving the ayatollah’s men more time to string the West along. North Korea did not test a nuclear weapon in 2014 but is widely believed to have launched a cyberattack on Sony.
In the sports and pop culture arena, I got three right: The Seattle Seahawks took the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning won his fifth NFL MVP award, and Miley Cyrus faded. I got two wrong: Duck Dynasty viewership was down, not up, and there was no Oscar for Sandra Bullock.
Now to 2015. Populist anger will grow more on the left than on the right. Hillary Clinton will run for the presidency; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, after flirting with the notion, will not. Neither will Vice President Joe Biden, but he will make more gaffes.
A surprising number of prospective Republican candidates will not run or get off the launchpad because of money-raising challenges. It will not take $88 million to win the nomination like it took Mitt Romney in 2012, but it will take close to that sum.
Aware that a 2015 Ames Straw Poll would undermine the credibility of the 2016 Iowa caucus, state GOP officials will reluctantly forgo the expensive (for candidates) ritual. By October, the GOP presidential front-runner will still poll around 25% nationally among Republicans.
Given a choice between conciliation and confrontation, Mr. Obama will liberally threaten to use his veto. Democrats will eventually rebel against defending his obstructionism. By year’s end, polls will show voters blame him for gridlock.
Republicans will send the president a stream of measures on jobs, energy, spending restraint, health care, border security and immigration that will pass Congress with healthy Democratic support, producing the first sustained period of bipartisan legislation during the Obama presidency.
Despite veto threats, GOP House and Senate members will take tough votes on issues like entitlement and tax reform, producing a governing conservative vision for 2016.
The House and Senate will pass budget resolutions on time and almost all the appropriations bills before the new fiscal year’s Oct. 1 start. Mr. Obama will veto several appropriations bills for spending too little.
Republicans will slow discretionary domestic spending and raise the military’s share of the budget.
There will be a Supreme Court vacancy in 2015. The court will rule the Affordable Care Act does not allow premium subsidies in states without their own insurance exchanges. Appeals courts will hold the president lacked authority for his executive memos on immigration.
Immigration and terrorism concerns will strengthen European populist parties. Vladimir Putin will try destabilizing yet another country. Islamic State will expand beyond Syria and Iraq. Iranian nuclear talks will drag on inconclusively or produce an unsatisfactory deal. The Afghan conflict will intensify, and with only one major base left (Bagram), the U.S. will not be able to project its power effectively throughout the country. Cuba will be as repressive at year’s end as at the year’s beginning. Bibi will narrowly survive as Israeli prime minister.
Ohio State will defeat Oregon, the Seahawks again will win the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers will be the NFL’s MVP, and Tiger Woods will go another year without a major championship. “American Sniper,” Benedict Cumberbatch and Clint Eastwood will win Oscars. The British Royals will have a girl. Mr. Obama will play lots more golf.
A version of this article appeared January 8, 2015, in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline My Fearless Political Predictions For 2015 and online at WSJ.com.