Political analysts try to predict Stephen Harper’s 2014

Stephen Harper speaks to media (CP file photo)Here's a not-so-bold prediction for the new year: Pundits and analysts will spend a lot of time in 2014 ruminating about Stephen Harper's future.

Growing antipathy after eight years in office, an ongoing Senate expense scandal and the re-emergence of the Liberals are all things that have politically injured the prime minister.

[ Related: Conservative government lost ground, voter confidence in 2013: polls ]

His party's paltry popular support numbers now sit below 30 per cent and that will lead politicos to openly prognosticate about his next steps.

It's already started.

Sun News analyst Ray Heard says the actions of others suggest Harper will step down in the new year.

"I honestly believe that Stephen Harper will decide not to run again and the evidence comes from Jason Kenney, Jim Prentice [and the] various other candidates.

They're talking as if they know something you and I don't know.

Harper may quit while the going is good."

CBC's Greg Weston wonders if Stephen Harper will take a "walk in the snow" referring, of course, to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau's famous walk in 1984 where he decided not to run again.

Internally, there are signs Harper's once iron fist is losing its grip on party discipline. And the worse things get for the Conservatives, the more the troops are beginning to rebel.

What's more, the mood inside the Conservative caucus isn't likely to improve anytime soon.

First, the Senate scandal that has done so much to put both the party and PM in the doghouse is far from over.

This may also be the year election authorities finally get to the bottom of the insidious robocalls that were designed to send thousands of Canadians to the wrong polling stations in the last federal election.

In Maclean's, Paul Wells says that he believes Harper intends to stay on to fight in the 2015 election but wonders how well he'll fare.

The most common techniques for getting voters to take a second look at a government are well known, and Harper tried every one of them in 2013. He shuffled his cabinet. He prorogued Parliament and came back with an unusually long and detailed Speech from the Throne. He delivered a rousing speech at a party convention. He concluded a historic trade deal with the European Union.

He ran radio ads against Justin Trudeau for almost a year.

And still he can’t knock the Liberals off the top of the polls, and still he can’t elude Thomas Mulcair’s daily interrogations on the Senate mess in the Commons.

Also in Maclean's, comedian Rick Mercer says Harper will resign:

He will go on his own, he will not be pushed. He will, in an elegant statement, say the decision was personal and that he wishes to spend time with his family and future fellow board members of Encana. An important chapter in Canada’s political history will come to a close. Canadians will never see his like again; his rock piano will fall silent. A terrific leadership race will follow.

After some impressive raillery, Mercer suggests Jason Kenney will be the 23rd prime minister of Canada.

"He will dazzle the country in his acceptance speech while wearing a kimono and a simple Indian headdress," Mercer quips.

[ Related: Ford, Harper and pipelines: Psychic weighs in on the big political questions of 2014 ]

Finally, right-leaning analyst Gerry Nicholls tells Yahoo Canada News that Harper will lead his party in the 2015 election.

A lot of the predictions of Stephen Harper’s demise or possible resignation are based more on wishful thinking by his opponents than on cold political reality.

Yes, Harper took his lumps last year, but he is a smart tactician who still has lots of time to turn things around before the next election.

The key for him is to get back on message. If he can make the debate a question of which party leader can best manage the economy, scandals or no scandals, Harper will have the edge.

You might need a crystal ball to decipher what the future holds for Harper in the new year.

You don't need one, however, to predict that talk of his future will become a national pastime in 2014.

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