Here Are Some of the Absolute Worst Predictions of the 2016 Race So Far

Here Are Some of the Absolute Worst Predictions of the 2016 Race So Far

A couple is seen through an American flag as they walk to a polling place for the New Hampshire primary, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H.

AP Photo / David Goldman

By Katherine Krueger
Talking Points Memo
February 10, 2016


It’s been a long, protracted election season so far, which has allowed ample time for pundits on both sides of the aisle to make very bad, authoritative predictions about the 2016 race. …

Here are just a few of the worst 2016 predictions that pundits and journalists have made so far this election cycle.

That Walker would be a top-tier candidate

After Gov. Scott Walker became a conservative darling for going toe-to-toe with public sector unions in Wisconsin, he immediately started crisscrossing the country to kiss major donors’ rings in preparation for a White House bid.

The governor’s momentum was enough for scores of politicos to put good odds on his chances, with some going so far as to declare he would be the GOP nominee, while The Hill ranked Walker second on its list of the top 10 most likely GOP nominees. …

That Trump would flame out early

Conservative pundit Bill Kristol, who has a long, hackish history of being patently wrong, took on new relevance in 2016 as a reliable engine for pumping out fantastically bad predictions about Donald Trump and the Republican race. …

After the first Republican presidential debate in August, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said Trump was clearly “out of place” and his opponents “left him out in the cold.”

The Huffington Post infamously announced plans last summer to cover Trump only in its entertainment vertical, calling the billionaire’s campaign “a sideshow.” They torpedoed the stunt only after months of Trump polling at the front of the GOP pack, but the Republican frontrunner still draws the site’s ire. HuffPost splashed the oversized headline “NH GOES RACIST SEXIST XENOPHOBIC” across its front page after Trump won the New Hampshire primary.

Ezra Klein, the politics wunderkind and founder of Vox Media, is still on board with Trump losing, and compared his candidacy to Howard Dean’s failed 2004 run: “Trump could just … not win.”

Chris Cillizza, editor of The Fix politics blog at The Washington Post, jumped on the Trump-as-gag-candidate bandwagon early. In a February 2015 piece with the already-back-pedaling headline “Donald Trump might be serious about running for president. He’s still irrelevant,” Cillizza declared: “So, let’s assume – gulp – that Trump is serious this time around. Heck, while we’re at it, let’s assume he actually runs. IT. DOESN’T. MATTER.”

When Cilizza ranked the GOP’s top 10 prospects in May, Trump didn’t make the cut (and only four of those 10 are still in the race at all). In a piece published the day before the New Hampshire primary, Cillizza observed Trump has campaigned “masterfully” but still demurred on the question of whether the real estate mogul was “built for the long haul” of securing the party’s nomination.

Discounting Sanders as a political curiosity

Serving as the compliment to the conventional wisdom that Hillary Clinton would be the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Ben Sanders’ (I-VT) viability as a candidate also was seriously underestimated.

The political predictions site Sabato’s Crystal Ball classifed Sanders as a “gadfly” third tier candidate in its May horse race, grouping him in with ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, ex-Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), and ex-Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, all of whom have since dropped out of the race. …

Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin, the “Game Change” co-author who recently parlayed a much-maligned politics TV show into a Showtime deal, wrote in October that Clinton could have the nomination locked up by Feb. 8. That ruling was obliterated by Sanders’ monster victory in New Hampshire. …

Jeb! will be the GOP nominee. Period.

It’s difficult to know where to start with the legions of pundits who trafficked in the prevailing wisdom that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would dominate the GOP field and enjoy smooth sailing en route to the party’s nomination.

Feverish reporting around Bush’s early fundraising numbers, paired with a spate of big-ticket campaign hires, was enough for many commentators to suggest that no other upstart Republican could stop the Bush machine from rolling to November.

How far the mighty fall. While Bush managed a fourth place finish in New Hampshire, he garnered a bleak 3 percent in the Iowa caucuses, an honor for which he reportedly spent nearly $3,000 per vote. …

Paul as savior of the Republican Party

Despite torrents of media coverage around Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) as the party’s great libertarian hope—the man able to unite the far-right tea party factions and the pierced and tattooed millennials—the candidate’s largely obscure campaign failed to get traction in 2016. …

In a 2013 episode of “Hardball,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews predicted in no uncertain terms that Paul would be the GOP’s man in 2016.

“I predict the hard right is going to take over the Republican party in 2016, and the nomination is going to Rand Paul,” Matthews told viewers. “You watch, I do this for a living.” …

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