(1) Which of the following Axis of Evil regimes will fall in '06?
Syria, Iran,The PRC, Castro, Robert Mugabe, Paul Martin, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong-il
I don't think Canada's inclusion in the list is fair, but we're likely looking at PM Harper by Valentine's Day; the Liberals are hanging by a thread and are likely to hand the Conservatives a plurality of the seats in the Jan 23 election. Unfortunately, it won't be a majority, so any Conservative government will need either the BQ or the Liberals to keep it afloat. The Liberals could well be back in power under new management by the end of 2006.
I'm not sure if there'll be a full regime change, but I have a feeling that Castro will be six feet under by this time next year, but by natural causes. It'll take the rest of the decade for Cuba to morph into a democracy once Castro's gone.
Everyone else in that rogues gallery will still be in charge next year; Zimbabwe would be the one most likely to change.
(2) The Senate is currently split 55-GOP, 44-DEM, 1-IND--what will the split be after the '06 midterm?
GOP under 50; GOP 60 or Over; GOP keeps majority plus a handful;GOP keeps majority minus a handful
I'm not exactly sure what seats will go where, but there are enough problematic Democratic seats where I'm expecting a net gain for the Republicans. Put me down for 56, although it could range from 53 to 60.
(3) The House split was 234-200-1 after the '04 election. After the '06 will it be:
GOP under 218; GOP over 260 (or whatever 60% is); GOP keeps majority plus a handful; GOP keeps majority minus a handful
I haven't looked at things on a race-by-race basis, but my take on the political ecology is that a few marginal Republicans will get knocked off. My quick-and-dirty over-and-under is 230.
(4) Which will be the biggest Senate upset(s) of '06, assuming Santorum is toast (see all races here):
PA (because Santorum holds on); WV; MA; NJ; MD; HI; NE; WA; WI; NM; ND
Bob Casey Jr. isn't a good campaigner; he's ahead in the polls, but this will be tight. LG Michael Steele is poised for an upset in Maryland, especially if Mfume wins the Democratic nomination. Kent Conrad's vulnerable in North Dakota, even if Gov Hoeven passes on a Senate run, and Tom Kean Jr. will be the favorite to beat whoever Gov-elect Corzine picks to replace himself.
One race that isn't even on his radar-Florida. Don't be surprise if the Republicans win that seat, even with the baggage that Katherine Harris brings to the table. She's viewed as the villain of the 2000 recount by the left, but she's a far better civil servant that her rep; the Soros Brigades may well overplay their hand and get a sympathy vote for Harris by centrists.
(5) The current frontrunners for the '08 nomination are John McCain and Hillary Clinton. At the end of the year will it be:
the same; McCain but not Clinton; Clinton but not McCain; Neither
That's not to say that there won't be movement below them. However, an anti-McCain has yet to develop on the Republican right; someone may well break out of the pack next year, but not enough to replace McCain in national polls. The general populous isn't paying attention yet, so folks like Allen, Romney, Brownback and Huckabee are "who's he" to Joe Sixpack.
The same's true on the Democratic side. There may be an anti-war lefty to challenge Hillary on the left, but unless she does something triple stoopid, she'll be the front runner a year from now. The question is who will emerge as the candidate of the Kossacks; Russ Feingold's making noises in that vein. That person may well come to the fore next year, but won't get past Hillary by the end of the year.
(6) The Dow finished the year at 10,717.50. Where will it end '06:
Over 11, 000, under 12
Between 11 and 10 again
Under 10, over 9
General upward drift is the default value for the stock market. After a so-so 2005, holding the stock market under 3% growth would be hard. I'd be more confident making that call about the S&P500, for it's more diversified; a bad year for one of the DJIA 30 could butcher my pick.
(7) Alan Greenspan has boosted the Fed funds rate to 4.5%. At the end of '06 will it be:
over 5%; under 4%; between 4 & 5%
That's a toughy. My guess is 5% on the nose; we've got a little more to curb oil-based inflation, but not much. I'm guessing one or two more 25-basis-point increases before the Fed calls it good; three would be stretching it barring some big supply shock.
(8) Who will win the 2006 World Series:
The White Sox; The Red Sox; The Yankees; The Mets; The Blue Jays; The Angels; The Indians; other
I'll take 23 teams over one, thank you. If I had to pick one of the listed teams, I'd take a flyer on the Tribe.
(9) After the '06 election who will be the emerging star in each party:
Bobby Jindal; Joe Lieberman (sic) ; Ken Blackwell; Michael Steele; Bob Casey Jr.(sic) ;Tom Kean Jr.
Rahm Emmanuel; Kweisi Mfume; Bernie Sanders (sic)
Three brainoes. Joementum and Casey are still Democrats and Sanders is a independent socialist.
Jindal's becoming a common face on TV, especially after Katrina. However, he'll not get the exposure that Blackwell and/or Steele will get if and when they win their races.
If elected, Steele will be the first black conservative in the history of the Senate, unless someone with more historical game than I wants to make a case for some of the Reconstruction-era black senators; Edward Brooke was a RINO. Given that Steele will be in Washington and from metro Washington when he's home (he's from Prince George's County in suburban Washington), he'll be a fixture on the tube; Blackwell will get some long-term press, but not as much as Steele will.
Even though he's not a Democrat, Sanders will be a rising star on the left, especially if he gets a Senate seat.
(10) What's your personal prediction for a big story of 2006 that isn't on anyone's radar right now?
The messy breakup of the Anglican church. It should come to a head finally this year. It's on some people's radar, but not too many.