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The Best Totally Wrong Predictions of the Republican Primary The Best Totally Wrong Predictions of the Republican Primary

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CAMPAIGN 2012

The Best Totally Wrong Predictions of the Republican Primary

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Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry pauses while announcing he is suspending his campaign and endorsing Newt Gingrich, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)  (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Now that we've had a couple hours to mourn the fact that the most boring Republican candidate will likely be the presidential nominee, it's time to hold all those pundits who tricked us into thinking there would be someone more fun to write about accountable for their mistakes. In the same way that InTrade is inexplicably used as having predictive power--as if online betters reflect anything other than polls and media coverage--sometimes it seems like what counts as prognostication is just whatever sounds smart at exactly the second it's being said. Our guide to the forecasts that sound funniest in hindsight.

Prediction: Rick Perry will own the debates.
Prognosticator: Kinky Friedman
Date: Sept. 5, 2011
Quote: "Unless he starts speaking in tongues, I predict Rick Perry wins the debate."
Reality: Perry was destroyed in the debates. He did almost speak in tongues, though.

 

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Prediction: Perry is unstoppable.
Prognosticator: CNN's James Moore Date: Aug. 31, 2011
Quote: "Perry will win the Iowa caucuses easily because Michele Bachmann will be running out of money and will have scared the party leadership. In New Hampshire, he will at least finish close to [Mitt] Romney, and in South Carolina he will affirm his run by winning the delegates necessary to seal up the nomination. Perry will take South Carolina by a margin wider than his credibility gap. Romney has the money and the infrastructure (and faltering judgment) to hang tough until Super Tuesday on March 6, but Perry will easily pocket wins in Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. With the nomination wrapped up, Perry will then start talking about jobs and the economy instead of Jesus." Reality: Perry came in fifth in Iowa, sixth in New Hampshire, and dropped out before South Carolina.

Prediction: Jon Huntsman will appeal to the working class.
Prognosticator: Politico

 

Date: May 11, 2011

Quote: Referring to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels's decision not to run: "Each of the three has qualities that may appeal to Daniels's partisans. Romney shares the business background and focus on competence. Pawlenty and Huntsman have an informal style that appeals to economically downscale voters.... '[Pawlenty's] not as compelling or brilliant as Huntsman, but he's right in the middle of the voter zone for Republican primary- and caucus-goers,' [a GOP strategist said.]"
Reality: Huntsman appealed only to media people, especially fancy media people, most notably when he was profiled in Vogue.

Prediction: Romney is doomed because he won't apologize for "Romneycare."

Prognosticator: The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin
Date: Feb. 14, 2011

 

Quote: "However, if there is one point of consensus among plugged-in Republicans on the 2012 field, it is that Romney can't win unless he does a mea culpa on Romneycare. Since he didn't and he won't do that, he's not going to be the nominee. Other than Romney admirers (and even some of them!) it's hard to find serious Republican players who disagree with that."
Reality: The Not Romneys never hit Romney that hard on Romneycare, and when they did, it didn't do much. Santorum was very good in comparing the program to Obamacare in the last Florida debate, but Romney still crushed him.

Prediction: Tim Pawlenty's got this.
Prognosticator: The New York Times' Ross Douthat
Date: May 16, 2011
Quote: "In a Huckabee-Romney rematch, or a Huckabee-Romney-Daniels struggle, Pawlenty would have been in constant danger of being outflanked from both sides at once--on social issues one week, and then on the good-government-moderate flank the next. But now he has an excellent shot at a clean victory in Iowa, he’s well-positioned to pick up a lot of Huckabee’s supporters across the South (where his main competition will be Newt Gingrich), and at the end of the day, he’ll still be moderate and safe and competent-seeming enough to woo voters in the Northeast and his native Midwest. Throw in the fact that both Romney and Gingrich infuriated conservative activists this weekend by defending the idea of an individual mandate in health care, and suddenly Pawlenty has perhaps the clearest path to the Republican nomination of any major contender. Unless... somebody else emerges to outflank him from the right in Iowa."
Reality: Pawlenty dropped out in August.

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