2. Witch hunts. What’s a Halloween without a few witches? A new "secret" John Doe is reportedly embarking on a sweeping witch-hunt of conservative organizations in Wisconsin. Even without any actual wrongdoing the probe – and the leaks that will come out of it – will have a chilling effect on activists.
3. Circular firing squads. Conservative on conservative fire can be more damaging than the bilge that comes from the left because it demoralizes the base. Ron Johnson’s low approval rating (28%) may have as much to do with shots from the right as attacks from the left. Ronald Reagan once famously said that "The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor." It’s scary how many conservatives have forgotten that.
4. Senator Russ Feingold. 2016 is only three years away.
5. Conservatives who say dumb things. As we saw in 2012, it only takes a single stupid comment about rape to flip senate elections. Liberals can and do say silly things every day, but when a conservative steps in it, every GOP candidate is put on the defensive. Given the Dem strategy of running against a "War on Women" count on the media to magnify any gaffes, blunder, or incidents of insensitivity to women. Here in Wisconsin, this means that the single scariest politician may be Assembly Majority Leader Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha), who is always one joke away from a headline.
6. Attorney General Jon Richards. Yes, J.B. Van Hollen has been a tremendous disappointment, but even an empty suit is better than an activist liberal ideologue with no law enforcement experience. Far-fetched? Remember that voters once elected Peg Lautenschlager to be the state’s top cop.
7. The Charlatan Caucus. During the shutdown, we found out how many politicians and well-funded outside groups were willing to mislead the conservative base about tactics, loyalties, and about what was politically possible. The charlatans boosted their visibility, mail lists and bank accounts, but conservatives were left dazed, divided, and battered in the polls. The good news is that the collapse of Obamacare has flipped the narrative back, but these guys may get another shot to strut their stuff in time to send the 2014 election south.
8. Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Imagine the last two years of an Obama presidency with Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate, as well as the White House.
9. Low information voters. Yes, the Obamacare roll out was a cluster-f**k; yes Benghazi is back in the news, but you only need to watch a few minutes of "man in the street" interviews to despair for the Republic. A nation that is bad at math may not sweat trillion dollar deficits; a nation that doesn’t know history may not grasp the notion of national decline. Not scared yet? Watch this:
10. Demographics. Whichever set of numbers you choose to believe, the country is very close to a tipping point where more Americans are net consumers of tax dollars than actual taxpayers. A populace that is increasingly dependent on government and the transfer of income is scary for a party that embraces small government and lower taxes. Mitt Romney famously blundered when he talked about the 47%... but he was on to something, and his number may have been low.
11. Dane County judges. They will continue to give the term "banana republic" a bad name. Expect more pulled-from-their-derriere jurisprudence in 2014.
12. The gender gap. Of course, the gap goes both ways, but conservatives can’t win without getting the female vote. So far we’re not. It’s not enough to be right on the issues, somehow we have to show women that their’s more to the right than nasty, greedy, old white guys (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
13. President Hillary Clinton.