Office Pool 2014

Predicting the next Senate, the fate of several dictators, President Obama's next push, and more


In memory of the late William Safire:

1. The November election results in a) Republican majorities in both the Senate and House as voters vent their rage at ObamaCare and frustration at a still-sluggish economy b) Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate as Democrats portray Republicans as obstructionist and the Republican base stays home c) same configuration, roughly, that we have now, with Congress split between a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the House.

2. The year ends with a) Governor-elect Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island b) Governor-elect Tom Foley of Connecticut c) Governor-elect Juliette Kayyem of Massachusetts d) Senator-Elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas e) all of the above f) none of the above.

3. The nonfiction bestseller of the year will be:  a) James Madison, by Lynne Cheney b) The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class by Fred Siegel c) One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America's Future by Ben Carson, M.D. d) The Road to Global Prosperity by Michael Mandelbaum e) Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng's untitled memoir f) Sweetheart, Gone To See The President: An Unconventional Marriage by Lucinda Franks.

4. The Iran nuclear outcome is a) Kerry-engineered interim "deal" falls apart b) sides agree to extend interim deal for another six months to allow for continued negotiations on a longer-term deal c) Saudi, Egyptian nuclear weapons programs advance as Arabs doubt Iranians will adhere to deal.

5. The big story of Mayor Bill de Blasio's first year in New York is a) the mayor can't get his income tax increase on the rich past Governor Cuomo or the State Senate in Albany b) first spouse Chirlane McCray's co-mayor role frustrates commissioners c) fury of charter-school parents as Bloomberg-era gains are rolled back d) return of "squeegee men" and homeless camped out in sidewalks and subway tunnels feeds meme of reversal of city's progress.

6. The dictator to exit, dead or alive, in 2014 will be a) Bashar Assad of Syria b) Fidel Castro of Cuba c) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia d) Ali Khamenei of Iran. (This question was in the last two years' office pools, too. Eventually at least one of them's got to go, no?)

7. The Sochi Olympics are marked by a) sporadic spontaneous protests about Russia's policies on gay rights b) a surprisingly strong showing by the United States team that, for at least a few weeks, silences talk of America's decline c) a surprisingly week showing by the United States team that feeds talk of America's decline d) a performance-enhancing drug scandal.

8. President Obama's big push in his State of the Union address will involve a) climate change b) immigration c) gun control d) inequality e) all of the above.

9. The big business story of the year is a) Fed scares markets with efforts to unwind QE b) Europe finally roars back c) the "headquarters curse" hits Apple, Google, and Facebook.

10. The media success of the year is a) Jeff Bezos's turnaround of the Washington Post b) John Henry's turnaround of the Boston Globe c) newly installed editor Joel Lovell's turnaround of the New York Times magazine d) the newly Politico-owned Capital New York e) Jessica Lessin's The Information.

11. The sleeper political issue of the year is a) traffic/sprawl b) health care, after ObamaCare enrollment is far lower than expected c) executive compensation at non-profit colleges, hospitals, and foundations d) inequality, after Pope Francis visits U.S. slums, then Wall Street e) medical marijuana f) welfare reform.

When I tried this last year, the article predicted, or at least raised the possibilities of, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellin, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, and CIA Director John Brennan . So hang onto your hats, and early wishes for a peaceful, prosperous, happy and free New Year to all.