One good thing about the rituals of years-end and New Year is that it does offer an opportunity for perspective in the all-too-frequently snail’s-eye world of political punditry. So now that immediate memories of the midterms have faded, and before we come to grips with the initial horrors (you know, like the installment of an Iowa farmer as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) of the 114th Congress, it’s a good time to look at where the two major political parties stand going into a presidential election cycle. I took on that palate-cleansing exercise in my weekly column at TPMCafe.

You can read the whole thing, but basically Republicans are in a position to regain the trifecta control of the federal government they lost in 2006, but are making that a harder task than it could be by a stubborn refusal to take opportunities to cut into the Obama Coalition. And Democrats have now pretty much hit bottom in non-presidential elections, and are sure to make gains in 2016, but have their own unique challenges in dealing with a leadership transition that coincides with a persistent and increasingly urgent intraparty debate over economic globalization and inequality.

I obviously don’t know for sure which party will meet its challenges with greater alacrity, or if either will entirely get it together. I spend a lot of time here mocking or scorning Republican follies because I believe the final conquest of the GOP by a conservative movement that has been dangerously radicalized is the most important political reality of our time. But there’s plenty of room for improvement all around.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.