In lieu of New Year's resolutions, political pundits seem to favor making New Year's predictions.
Case in point: conservative talk radio host Charlie Sykes and his buddies at Right Wisconsin, the conservative website run by Journal Communications (the parent company of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
Sykes made a whopping 27 predictions about state and national politics for 2014, while Right Wisconsin managing editor Brian Fraley made 21 and staff writer Collin Roth made 14.
For the most part, the predictions were little more than chest-thumping assertions that conservatives will be proven right on some point or another — Obamacare, Benghazi, streetcars in Milwaukee.
But some of the state predictions are curiously specific, suggesting that the trio might be trotting out information they've picked up on the holiday party circuit.
"Before April, a veteran GOP lawmaker will surprise fellow legislators with a retirement announcement," wrote Fraley.
"Why on earth would I reveal the name anywhere else than [Right Wisconsin]?" he replied via email. "Nice try though."
Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, who has been in the state Senate since 1990 and will turn 70 this year, is a likely candidate, but who knows? Maybe Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is sick of politics.
Also from Fraley: "Calls to make Wisconsin a Right-to-Work state will intensify."
That's a surprising call that conflicts with conventional wisdom. First, although Walker has never said he opposes right-to-work, which outlaws union contracts that require workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment, he has insisted that he sees the issue as a distraction and does not believe it will come up. Second, insiders have indicated in the past that a large number of GOP legislators do not wish to endure yet another bitter labor battle in an election year, particularly one that would pit them against the few remaining union allies, such as the Milwaukee police and firefighter associations.
In addition, as much as key parts of the Republican base support right-to-work, it's not an issue that is likely to be important for swing voters. Unlike Act 10, which had implications for taxpayers, right-to-work would do very little for the typical Wisconsin worker. And although Walker's recall victory in some ways appeared to be a vindication of his anti-union policies, his approval rating during the initial protests plummeted. It was only months later, when his opponents took the unprecedented action of organizing recall elections against him and Republican state senators, that public opinion shifted back into his column.
But Fraley maintains the pressure will be coming from "lawmakers, interest groups, pundits and the grassroots."
Before the election?
"Yes, before the election," he responded.
Fellow conservative blogger David Blaska, who penned a series of semi-serious predictions for InBusiness, also referenced the impending arrival of right-to-work. Asked to elaborate, the former Cap Times columnist and Tommy Thompson flack said he did not believe it was a top issue for conservatives but that he was beginning to believe it might be helpful in attracting manufacturing jobs.
Fraley and Blaska both predicted — with mischievous glee — that Kathleen Vinehout would mount a serious challenge to Mary Burke for the Democratic nomination for governor. Blaska even suggested Vinehout would win, a prediction that he backed off when questioned, citing the arm injury she suffered in a recent car accident.
Finally, a prediction from Sykes: "There will be no Kenosha casino decision until after the election."
The veteran talker declined, however, to say what the result of Walker's decision would be.
"My crystal ball isn't that clear," he said.