The Best and Worst 2013 Predictions

Pundits love to give their predictions for what will happen in the following year. But were they actually accurate?

National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
Dec. 18, 2013, 6:52 a.m.

In 2013, Bashar al-As­sad was ous­ted from Syr­ia, un­em­ploy­ment re­mained at 8 per­cent, and the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins won the Su­per Bowl.

That’s ob­vi­ously not what happened this year. But be­ing wrong nev­er stops a whole slew of psych­ics and pun­dits from mak­ing bold new pre­dic­tions for the next year.

For now, however, we’re go­ing to take a look at the pre­dic­tions made at the end of last year and be­gin­ning of this year for what would hap­pen in 2013. Some were on the mark, and oth­ers were way off.

What People Got Right

The Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation pre­dicted in mid-Janu­ary that an as­sault-rifle ban would not pass Con­gress. After months of hear­ings, a watered-down gun-con­trol bill couldn’t even clear the Demo­crat-con­trolled Sen­ate.

Bloomberg colum­nist Ramesh Pon­nuru pre­dicted Health­Care.gov would not be ready by its Oct. 1 dead­line, along with a list of pre­dicted set­backs for the Obama­care rol­lout. This was true, as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to struggle with the new in­sur­ance pro­gram.

Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Jen­nifer Ru­bin pre­dicted that Re­pub­lic­an gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate Ken Cuc­cinelli would lose nar­rowly to Demo­crat Terry McAul­iffe. She was cor­rect, as McAul­iffe car­ried the race by a 48 to 45 per­cent mar­gin.

In­vest­ment news web­site The Street pre­dicted that Twit­ter would file its doc­u­ments to start the pro­cess of go­ing pub­lic this year. That panned out. On Sept. 12, Twit­ter did file to go pub­lic, show­ing $317 mil­lion in rev­en­ue.

Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Greg Sar­gent pre­dicted more “scorched-earth battles” between House Re­pub­lic­ans and Pres­id­ent Obama over the fisc­al cliff, the debt ceil­ing, and gun con­trol. “In oth­er words, lots more of the same!” he wrote. That wasn’t a ter­ribly hard call to make, but he was cor­rect.

Politico’s Josh Ger­stein pre­dicted the Su­preme Court would not up­hold the right to same-sex mar­riage, but would wait to make a broad de­cision for an­oth­er term. While the Su­preme Court did rule that same-sex couples de­served fed­er­al be­ne­fits and ef­fect­ively al­lowed same-sex mar­riages to con­tin­ue in Cali­for­nia, the court did not de­clare same-sex mar­riage a con­sti­tu­tion­al right throughout the coun­try.

And the Fail­ures

Fox News host Bill O’Re­illy pre­dicted in Janu­ary that im­mig­ra­tion re­form would hap­pen. “We can ex­pect a quasi-am­nesty for law-abid­ing il­leg­al ali­ens already in the coun­try,” he said. Im­mig­ra­tion re­form, however, nev­er did hap­pen and is still mak­ing its slow way through Con­gress.

Former Bush ad­viser Karl Rove pre­dicted the un­em­ploy­ment rate would be around 8 per­cent throughout the year. As of Novem­ber, the un­em­ploy­ment rate was 7 per­cent, and had been de­clin­ing since Janu­ary. He also pre­dicted there would be more Demo­crat­ic than Re­pub­lic­an re­tire­ments from the House. At press time, eight Re­pub­lic­ans and only one Demo­crat have an­nounced their re­tire­ments. This does not in­clude mem­bers run­ning for oth­er of­fices.

Pon­nuru also pre­dicted that Rep. Paul Ry­an, R-Wis., would resign from the House be­cause he “will find that the con­straints of serving in the U.S. House make it im­possible for him to mount a ser­i­ous pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.” That was in­cor­rect, and Ry­an ended up be­ing one of the two main play­ers in reach­ing a ma­jor budget agree­ment. He’s ac­tu­ally re­portedly very much in­ter­ested in stick­ing in the House, with his eyes set on the Ways and Means chair­man­ship.

New York Ob­serv­er’s Duff Mc­Don­ald pre­dicted that Gold­man Sachs CEO Lloyd Blank­fein would re­tire and be re­placed by Gary Cohn. It was a bold pre­dic­tion, but Blank­fein is still on top of the in­vest­ment-bank­ing firm.

The At­lantic’s Jordan Weiss­mann pre­dicted the fall of on­line daily-deals web­site Groupon. “Bot­tom line: In 2013, Groupon ex­pires for good,” he wrote. Groupon is still around. Between Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Monday of this year, the com­pany re­cor­ded its biggest four-day week­end of sales.

Al Jaz­eera’s Barn­aby Phil­lips pre­dicted that Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad would not last 2013, end­ing his reign in either of three ways: es­cap­ing to Rus­sia, flee­ing to an Alaw­ite strong­hold with­in Syr­ia’s bor­ders, or get­ting killed. As­sad, however, looks stronger than he has in re­cent years, em­boldened by re­cent vic­tor­ies in the civil war and an in­ter­na­tion­al agree­ment to rid the coun­try of its chem­ic­al weapons.

Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Eu­gene Robin­son pre­dicted that both Venezuelan Pres­id­ent Hugo Chavez and Cuban re­volu­tion­ary Fi­del Castro would die in 2013. This was only half true, as only Chavez passed away in March. Castro, though frail, is still alive.

Former Red­skins quar­ter­back Mark Rypi­en pre­dicted the Wash­ing­ton NFL team would win the Su­per Bowl. Act­iv­ists were closer to chan­ging the team name than the Red­skins were to go­ing to the show.

CBS Sports’ Bruce Feld­man pre­dicted that Texas A&M quar­ter­back and Heis­man Trophy win­ner Johnny Man­ziel would lead the team to an­oth­er top-five fin­ish. Texas A&M fin­ished at No. 21 in the BCS stand­ings. Nice try, Johnny Foot­ball.

Head­line News pre­dicted Si­mon Cow­ell would re­turn to Amer­ic­an Idol and John May­er and Taylor Swift would get back to­geth­er. Sadly, both of those pre­dic­tions were in­cor­rect. We’re still hold­ing out hope. 

What People Got Right

The Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation pre­dicted in mid-Janu­ary that an as­sault-rifle ban would not pass Con­gress. After months of hear­ings, a watered-down gun-con­trol bill couldn’t even clear the Demo­crat-con­trolled Sen­ate.

Bloomberg colum­nist Ramesh Pon­nuru pre­dicted Health­Care.gov would not be ready by its Oct. 1 dead­line, along with a list of pre­dicted set­backs for the Obama­care rol­lout. This was true, as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to struggle with the new in­sur­ance pro­gram.

Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Jen­nifer Ru­bin pre­dicted that Re­pub­lic­an gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate Ken Cuc­cinelli would lose nar­rowly to Demo­crat Terry McAul­iffe. She was cor­rect, as McAul­iffe car­ried the race by a 48 to 45 per­cent mar­gin.

In­vest­ment news web­site The Street pre­dicted that Twit­ter would file its doc­u­ments to start the pro­cess of go­ing pub­lic this year. That panned out. On Sept. 12, Twit­ter did file to go pub­lic, show­ing $317 mil­lion in rev­en­ue.

Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Greg Sar­gent pre­dicted more “scorched-earth battles” between House Re­pub­lic­ans and Pres­id­ent Obama over the fisc­al cliff, the debt ceil­ing, and gun con­trol. “In oth­er words, lots more of the same!” he wrote. That wasn’t a ter­ribly hard call to make, but he was cor­rect.

Politico’s Josh Ger­stein pre­dicted the Su­preme Court would not up­hold the right to same-sex mar­riage, but would wait to make a broad de­cision for an­oth­er term. While the Su­preme Court did rule that same-sex couples de­served fed­er­al be­ne­fits and ef­fect­ively al­lowed same-sex mar­riages to con­tin­ue in Cali­for­nia, the court did not de­clare same-sex mar­riage a con­sti­tu­tion­al right throughout the coun­try.

And the Failures

Fox News host Bill O’Re­illy pre­dicted in Janu­ary that im­mig­ra­tion re­form would hap­pen. “We can ex­pect a quasi-am­nesty for law-abid­ing il­leg­al ali­ens already in the coun­try,” he said. Im­mig­ra­tion re­form, however, nev­er did hap­pen and is still mak­ing its slow way through Con­gress.

Former Bush ad­viser Karl Rove pre­dicted the un­em­ploy­ment rate would be around 8 per­cent throughout the year. As of Novem­ber, the un­em­ploy­ment rate was 7 per­cent, and had been de­clin­ing since Janu­ary. He also pre­dicted there would be more Demo­crat­ic than Re­pub­lic­an re­tire­ments from the House. At press time, eight Re­pub­lic­ans and only one Demo­crat have an­nounced their re­tire­ments. This does not in­clude mem­bers run­ning for oth­er of­fices.

Pon­nuru also pre­dicted that Rep. Paul Ry­an, R-Wis., would resign from the House be­cause he “will find that the con­straints of serving in the U.S. House make it im­possible for him to mount a ser­i­ous pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.” That was in­cor­rect, and Ry­an ended up be­ing one of the two main play­ers in reach­ing a ma­jor budget agree­ment. He’s ac­tu­ally re­portedly very much in­ter­ested in stick­ing in the House, with his eyes set on the Ways and Means chair­man­ship.

New York Ob­serv­er’s Duff Mc­Don­ald pre­dicted that Gold­man Sachs CEO Lloyd Blank­fein would re­tire and be re­placed by Gary Cohn. It was a bold pre­dic­tion, but Blank­fein is still on top of the in­vest­ment-bank­ing firm.

The At­lantic’s Jordan Weiss­mann pre­dicted the fall of on­line daily-deals web­site Groupon. “Bot­tom line: In 2013, Groupon ex­pires for good,” he wrote. Groupon is still around. Between Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Monday of this year, the com­pany re­cor­ded its biggest four-day week­end of sales.

Al Jaz­eera’s Barn­aby Phil­lips pre­dicted that Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad would not last 2013, end­ing his reign in either of three ways: es­cap­ing to Rus­sia, flee­ing to an Alaw­ite strong­hold with­in Syr­ia’s bor­ders, or get­ting killed. As­sad, however, looks stronger than he has in re­cent years, em­boldened by re­cent vic­tor­ies in the civil war and an in­ter­na­tion­al agree­ment to rid the coun­try of its chem­ic­al weapons.

Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist Eu­gene Robin­son pre­dicted that both Venezuelan Pres­id­ent Hugo Chavez and Cuban re­volu­tion­ary Fi­del Castro would die in 2013. This was only half true, as only Chavez passed away in March. Castro, though frail, is still alive.

Former Red­skins quar­ter­back Mark Rypi­en pre­dicted the Wash­ing­ton NFL team would win the Su­per Bowl. Act­iv­ists were closer to chan­ging the team name than the Red­skins were to go­ing to the show.

CBS Sports’ Bruce Feld­man pre­dicted that Texas A&M quar­ter­back and Heis­man Trophy win­ner Johnny Man­ziel would lead the team to an­oth­er top-five fin­ish. Texas A&M fin­ished at No. 21 in the BCS stand­ings. Nice try, Johnny Foot­ball.

Head­line News pre­dicted Si­mon Cow­ell would re­turn to Amer­ic­an Idol and John May­er and Taylor Swift would get back to­geth­er. Sadly, both of those pre­dic­tions were in­cor­rect. We’re still hold­ing out hope. 

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