Billionaires, super PACs and nonprofits are gearing up for another round of intraparty fighting that will shape the direction of their respective parties for years to come.
On the Republican side, the business wing of the GOP establishment has declared war on elements of the party’s base — convinced that the religious right’s focus on social issues is costing swing votes and that tea partiers are playing a dangerous game of chicken with the U.S. economy. Those conservative activists, on the other hand, are determined to rid their party of the moderates and compromisers who they say are empowering President Barack Obama and standing in the way of meaningful conservative reform.
Democrats — less prone recently to pitched battles about the direction of the party in the age of Obama — are also showing early signs of a growing split over the future of the party.
Progressives and left-leaning activists are already clamoring for alternatives to the centrist, pro-business (read: Hillary Clinton) wing of the party — embodied by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s rise to prominence as a darling of the left. Meanwhile, on two hot-button issues — climate and gun control — activist mega-donors are determined to punish Democrats deemed insufficiently committed to the party’s stated agenda on both issues.
Here are 10 people and groups that are poised to play a major role in primaries or setting the political agenda in 2014: