1. Efforts by moderates or traditional conservatives to improve the Republican Party’s outreach and branding will suffer due to the continued clout of the Tea Party, far-right House Republicans and talk show hosts who will make sure the party appeals mostly to its existing choir. A politically damaging GOP internal war will heat up.
2. Democrats often blow it when they regain chunks of power by infighting, overreaching, or not using their power. The Dems will be more careful this time, but probably can’t help themselves.
3. Despite being already under fire for “caving” (the 21st century partisans’ word for America’s centuries-old, respected, tradition of political compromise) on the fiscal cliff, a tougher second-term Obama will use his political capitol to battle Republicans’ opposition to his positions on immigration reform, gun control and the debt ceiling. A form of immigration reform will pass.
4. Politicos to watch: Republicans Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush. Democrats Hillary Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.
5. Republicans have binders full of reasons to put Romney, his organization and political-malpractice campaign totally behind them — and they most assuredly will.
6. A slow economic recovery will continue with setbacks along the way.
7. The Today Show will continue to lag behind Good Morning America. The public points the finger of blame for Ann Curry’s humiliating firing on mega-salaried Matt Lauer, who has a mega-image problem. The New York Daily News reports that NBC wants Lauer and Curry “to literally break bread to help shift the public perception of Lauer back to what it once was.” But any P.R. type will tell you: it ain’t gonna happen. Lauer’s image and the Today’s Show’s ratings are cooked.
8. Watch for CNN to get a ratings boost under new boss Jeff Zucker. MSNBC will continue to rise. Fox News will still lead, but Sean Hannity — who took a huge hit in his post-election ratings by enabling partisan hackery about how Obama was going to lose and suggestions that polls were wrong — will never regain his numbers.
More realistic partisans will help Fox News remain what it is: a communications center for Republican perspectives and a dissemination hub for GOP talking points.
9. Karl Rove will remain a major pundit force due to Wall Street Journal columns and resumed talking head appearances on Fox News. But in the overall media he’ll be seriously damaged goods: an over-hyped political “genius” who on election night 2012 seemed to be channeling Dick Morris.
10. The NRA will continue to prevent substantive gun regulation, barring some new mass murder more shocking than the butchering of virtual babies and their educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. If something worse happens, look for the banning or tight control of assault weapons. Despite Rupert Murdoch’s support of gun control, the public will perceive Republicans as working with the NRA to check-mate meaningful gun law regulation — and it’ll cost the GOP some votes.
11. Breaking Bad will continue to be television’s best show. Its final episodes will be shockers. At least one major character will suddenly die, Walter won’t enjoy a happy future, and the ending won’t be ambiguous like The Sopranos’. In coming years, the program will be hailed as one of the finest, most intricately layered pieces of writing, directing and acting that has ever appeared on the tube.
12. The country’s best pizza will still be Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, Conn.
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is editor-in-chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.