Top 5 political predictions for 2015

December 16, 2014

Hillary Clinton speaks on "Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership"  at Georgetown University in Washington

1. The Obama boom will finally arrive.  Only it will be more like a boomlet.

Americans have been waiting for the boom since they elected President Barack Obama in the teeth of the 2008 financial meltdown. After all, we elected Ronald Reagan during an economic downturn in 1980, and by his second term, the economy had turned around (“Morning in America”).  We elected Bill Clinton in an economic downturn in 1992, and by his second term, the economy had come roaring back (the “dot-com boom,” now known as the “dot-com bubble”).  Now we’re deep into Obama’s second term. Where’s da boom?

It’s finally starting. Not only does it look like the economy is picking up, but we’re beginning to see real wage growth. What’s holding things back is the lack of any fiscal stimulus. Government spending is “sequestered.” This entire recovery has been driven by the Federal Reserve (zero interest rates). The drop in oil prices is also helping. (Not helping the stock market, though. Energy stocks are dragging the market down.)

Democrats will take whatever strong recovery they can get. Maybe it will save the White House for them in 2016.

2. Populism will thrive, left and right, in the United States and in Europe. 

We saw it in Thursday night’s House budget vote that averted a government shutdown. Most Democrats defied Obama and voted “no.” Their complaint? Populism. The budget bill eases a tough regulation aimed at curbing risky trading on Wall Street.

Nearly a third of House Republicans also defied their party leaders and voted “no.”  Their complaint? Populism. Tea Party Republicans don’t like the fact that the bill raises contribution limits for wealthy campaign donors. They’re worried that it will give the party establishment — Wall Street, again — too much clout and squelch the Tea Party revolt.

In Europe, anti-establishment populist movements are threatening to shake up the political order: the United Kingdom Independence Party, the National Front in France, the Pegida movement in Germany, Podemos in Spain, the Democrats in Sweden (Sweden!). All feed on populist resentment of immigrants and minorities.

Why is this happening? Because European financial elites imposed a misbegotten regime of austerity on their countries, on the fantastic theory that reducing national debt would result in economic recovery. What they got was an endless recession. And a wave of populist anger targeted at outsiders.

3. Obama’s job approval ratings will improve, but only a little. 

We’ll probably see the president’s ratings rise from the low 40s, where they are now, to near 50 percent.

His ratings can’t go much higher because the country is so intensely polarized. Obama’s support and opposition are pretty much locked in. He will probably not get to where Clinton was during his impeachment drama (more than 60 percent approval). And he’s unlikely to go as low as President George W. Bush did during the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina (low 30s).

4. Hillary Clinton will run for the 2016 Democratic nomination. 

She has to. If she doesn’t run, Democrats will nominate Vice President Joe Biden and he will lose (“a third term for Obama”).

Clinton has her own brand. She was in the public eye long before anyone had ever heard of Obama. She was Obama’s competitor in the 2008 Democratic primaries.  This time, Clinton won’t wait until the end of the campaign to bring up the “glass ceiling.” The prospect of electing the first woman president will be central to her message. And it will create genuine excitement. She’ll reinforce that excitement by naming a Latino as her running mate. Most likely Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and current secretary of housing and urban development.

But she will face a challenge from the left in the Democratic primaries. A lot of progressives suspect her of hawkishness in foreign policy and centrism in domestic policy — too close to Wall Street, the bugaboo of populists. We don’t know who her challenger will be yet — probably not Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the new icon of the left. But somebody will emerge to carry the fight. And lose to Clinton.

Bush addresses the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Annual Conference in Lake Buena Vista

5. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will run for the Republican nomination.

The party establishment is ready to throw buckets of money at Bush. They need him to save the GOP from the dreaded Tea Party, the creepy religious right and the flaky libertarians. Bush will end 2015 as the Republican frontrunner — but only narrowly. The rest of the Republican primary vote will be divided among five or six candidates from the various conservative clans.

Bush will most likely win the nomination because happiness in politics is a divided opposition. That’s how Mitt Romney got the Republican nomination in 2012.  As the Chinese proverb says, “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of  your enemies will float by.”

Bush will be the last Republican standing. All that money will guarantee it. Just as it did for Romney.

Another Bush versus Clinton race in 2016!  No wonder Americans are sick of politics.


PHOTO (TOP): Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks on “Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership” at Georgetown University in Washington, December 3, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

PHOTO (INSERT): Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush addresses the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Annual Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, June 21, 2012. REUTERS/David Manning



We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Good summary of current and imminent state of politics.

Posted by Mott | Report as abusive

Here’s to hoping that the next President of the USA does not have a last name of Bush or Clinton. This country needs new blood and someone who can begin to unite the country and point to a successful future instead of the current state of divide and concur politics.

Posted by RichmondRob | Report as abusive

Mixed. It will cost the Clintons lots for a Hillary run. It will be real hard to make the case that Bill can continue Clinton Global if she is President, although I’m sure apologists will try. They’re both very fond of money. His old press sec. has a vid interview over on realclear politics, and he thinks she won’t run. She’s happy focusing on her issues. I think she’s just out building the brand while she’s in focus. If she doesn’t run, the dems will likely do a McGovern/Dukakis type disaster, which ends up actually enhancing Bill’s stature.

Posted by ARJTurgot2 | Report as abusive

Does Reuters actually pay this man for such utterly banal opinion/drivel?

Posted by jonkin | Report as abusive

Populism will thrive- only in the lore put out by newspapers. Fascism will continue to erode the constitution and freedom and justice. Americans are crazy greedy people who spout popularism as a shield against their underlying desire to take what they want and not have to earn it. This is true for the majority on both sides of the aisle. Everyone is so anxious to be a good minion that the next president could install showers that spray poison gas and yet the majority would not object. Most people already approve of torture and giving the president say over life and death of americans, so why would they stop at poison showers?

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

Probably all true, but the real entertainment will be the Republican primary as they cycle through their usual “frontrunner-of-the-week” process.

Posted by Craic_Guiness | Report as abusive

I sincerely hope that we can get better candidates than a Bush or Clinton. We need someone with the goals of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders.

Posted by hearalso | Report as abusive

Again the very expensive circus starts. Is this all just to impress those who’s mind can be swayed by a little extra pomp and circumstance? (My Mum voted for Tony Blair “because he had nice hair”).
The election of a head for a government is the placement of a professional politician with close ties to his/her party. This has nothing to do with running the country, that is done by permanent secretaries and committees. It is they who decide what is in the best interest of the country, which actually translates as maintaining the status quo to keep the cash rolling over and flowing in the right direction, (state coffers and the top 5% elite).
Governmental change only comes about with the dismantling of the backroom boys hobby desks and is usually the result of revolution or the overthrow of a despot.
Any election in a free and democratic western country is going to change…erm…well nothing really, just the faces on the tv who are asked very serious and challenging questions that they will never answer.

Posted by oldcat | Report as abusive