It’s time to review my political predictions this year, just as I do with my market forecasts in my column.
Bottom line: I was a better market forecaster than I was a political prognosticator in 2012—although things improved later in the year.
In a January 5th posting, I made “Six Big Political Predictions for 2012.” The first—that Mitt Romney would win the Republican presidential nomination–was likely at the time, but hardly in the bag, although I had been saying it since July 2011. “Romney simply has the best organization and the most money to last for the long haul, and the electability argument ultimately will be decisive,” I wrote. All true.
But I was wrong that he would choose a social conservative as his running mate “to bring the GOP’s Christian conservative base to the voting booth.” Romney ultimately chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential candidate. Although Ryan has an impeccable social conservative voting record, he’s primarily known as a hawk on spending, a big drawer for the Tea Party wing of the party.
I also said that “President Barack Obama will win re-election narrowly, simply because of his superb re-election team, the residual feelings of likeability much of the public has for him, and Romney’s need to go far to the right to win the GOP’s nod.” All on target, but changing demographics and an improving economy may have been even more important.
Then, I went really astray—at least at first. “Republicans will narrowly take over the Senate while maintaining their majority in the House of Representatives, but by a much slimmer margin,” I wrote. Of course, Democrats not only maintained but extended their majority in the Senate and Republicans didn’t lose that many seats in the House.
I changed my views as we got closer to the election. My final predictions: President Obama would get 281 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 257, and the Democrats would maintain their 53-seat majority in the Senate.
I underestimated the Democratic victory on both counts. The president wound up winning by nearly five million popular votes and he got 332 electoral votes. And Democrats took 55 Senate seats, more than many predicted, as extreme Republican candidates drove voters away in some key races.
I was also right about the French election—I said President Nicolas Sarkozy would “lose his bid for re-election…and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande will ultimately prevail.” I also said France would lose its AAA credit rating, and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country the following week.
Finally, I made one prediction that hasn’t come true yet—and I hope it doesn’t:
Whether it happens this year or next, we could face a very big international crisis, most likely in either Korea or Iran. I’d bet on Iran, where European countries are tightening sanctions amid reports Iran is moving ahead with its nuclear program.
I’ll address that when I make my predictions in the New Year.