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
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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. 

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