I have usually thought of Congress as the most powerful branch, but most agree that title belongs to the Executive. (Also, the Legislative Branch is explained in Article I while the Executive is in Article II.) I always liked the fact that the aggregation, combination, and/or chaos of the House and the Senate is a good indicator of where the American people, for better or worse. Unfortunately, our electoral system usually biases/skews that representation due to redistricting, state size, or other factors. As it stands now, the Republican wave within the state houses and the governors’ mansions allowed them to unilaterally create districts to maximize the amount of Republicans for the upcoming decade, all else equal. (Look at USC’s Annenberg Center’s ReDistricting Game to get a fuller understanding of that particular process.) Of course Democrats did the same, but they really only had one state to make that difference in Illinois (Chicago Tribune). With the 2014 elections coming, no serious political analyst sees Democrats making a gain, especially in the midterm of the 2nd term of a President as evidenced in the below (President Clinton’s 2nd term was an exception to the rule).
Voters should focus their time and energy on whether they want to keep their legislator. It looks like a lot of people will be looking for their jobs by the time Election Day 2014 hits; however, there are primaries (except for Louisiana) and runoffs (in a few states) which may be even more important then November. The GOP primary for the U.S. Senate currently filled by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) will be important to determine the direction of the party in that state (and region). The State of Maine will determine whether they want to keep “America’s Craziest Governor” (POLITICO), go independent with Eliot Cutler – as they did with former Gov. and now Senator Angus King (I-ME) – or the current Democratic frontrunner, Rep. Mike Michaud. California’s 17th district, currently held by Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), will be facing a primary challenge from Ro Khanna which I will term as an ‘establishment vs. upstart’ (POLITICO). Because of California’s top 2 general election, these 2 will most likely face each other twice in both the primary and general election, much like in the fashion of Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman (Los Angeles Times) in 2012.
There is enough in your local area that you should not even be concerned in the least what is happening on the national state. In my own state of Indiana, we are currently figuring out whether to ban same-sex marriage (USA Today) and whether school vouchers should be extended to those at the preschool level (WFPL). I am pretty confident that you will also be able to find enough information to keep yourself occupied until the 2014 election.
P.S. If you want to play around with 2016 presidential electoral vote totals, 270ToWin is the best for general election simulations and The Green Papers during the nomination stage for state and local party rules.