More partisan, more up for grabs....
Before getting to the nitty-gritty take a New Year moment to read this Anne Applebaum column about how we tend to take democracy for granted. It is, she reminds us, a luxury only those living in advanced Western countries can indulge in. Our political peccadilloes, shenanigans, scandals, shortfalls etc. should be read in this light.
Now, on to the new Congress:
Michael Barone offers insights into the political landscape as the new Congress takes center stage. Key points: (1) Democrats increasingly rely upon legacy candidates; (2) voters divide along partisan lines, splitting tickets less often than at any time since the 1920s; (3) moderates have virtually disappeared from both major parties; (4) yet the polity appears to be more fluid than in recent elections; (5) GOP strength is at "historic highs." Read the entire analysis for many nuggets.
With the Dec. 17 declaration that GOP House candidate Martha McSally narrowly won (167 seats) Gabby Giffords's Arizona seat (her second try), the GOP now has a 247-188 House majority in the 114th Congress, its highest total since the 71st Congress (1929-1931), when the GOP held 270 seats.
WSJ Washington pundit Kim Strassel sees an emerging GOP legislative strategy for the 114th Congress: carefully framed, targeted initiatives, rather than an all-out assault upon the president, who retains enormous power even though his political position and political support have been greatly diminished. It has four pillars: (1) "flood the zone"--tacking riders onto omnibus bills; (2) "bipartisan embarrassment"--seeking veto-proof majority with Democratic support, as with the Keystone XL pipeline; (3) "bipartisan stop signs"--blocking White House regulatory overreach; (4) investigations.
President Obama can be expected to issue directives circumventing the Congress via two forms, executive orders & presidential memoranda, these being essentially equivalent, save that the latter are less publicized & thus travel under the press radar more often. In six years Obama's EO+ PM total is already the highest since Carter, and higher than for any GOP president ever (easily established from the link above, in that prior to FDR these actions were very rare). Obama's 198 PMs as of mid-Dec. 2014 already tops the post-FDR PM list.
Bottom Line. The field is wide-open for both parties.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, Conservative Politics