Incorrect Pundit Predictions

Pundits set conventional wisdom in Washington. But how good are they? Here are some of their predictions that proved not so smart.

By: Drew Lindsay

IS RUMSFELD OUTTA HERE?

“House Democrats . . . are calling for Defense secretary Don Rumsfeld to resign. Fat chance.”

Chris Matthews, MSNBC’s Hardball, September 14

“He is the Rasputin of the Bush administration. He cannot be killed; he will not leave. . . . I don’t think that it’s humanly possible to remove Rumsfeld from the Pentagon.”

Timothy Noah, Slate“Political Gabfest,” October 20

A DEMOCRATIC TAKEOVER? NAH!

“Modest, small gains for the Democrats in the House and Senate, not taking control of either body.”

Mara Liasson, Fox News Sunday Roundtable, December 25, 2005

“I think Republicans will retain control” of Congress.

Fred Barnes, Fox’s The Beltway Boys, August 26

“Democrats will win 14 seats net, thereby coming up one short. . . . As for the Senate, 52–48 Republican.”

Tod Lindberg, Washington Times, November 7

“The Republican majority in the Senate will survive by one or two seats maximum. . . . The Democrats will probably take the House by a few seats, at least no more than five or six.”

Dick Armey, CNN’s The Situation Room, November 6

JOE’S A GONER

Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont squared off twice, giving pundits two chances to blow the call.

“I think Lieberman’s going down hard, not only in the primary but if he stays in it in the general.”

Tony Blankley, The McLaughlin Group, August 4

“Lamont going away, and he’ll win the general.”

Pat Buchanan, McLaughlin, August 4

“Connecticut’s liberal Republican former senator, Lowell Weicker, . . . will bring enough liberal and moderate Republicans to Lamont so that it will be Lamont’s win” in the general election.

Lawrence O’Donnell, McLaughlin, August 18

CAN ALLEN SURVIVE?


“At the end of the day, I think he’ll win.”

Fred Barnes, Beltway Boys, September 30

“Senator Allen of Virginia survived vicious ad hominem attacks on him, and he’ll win reelection. . . . Four and a half, five points.”

Tony Blankley, McLaughlin, October 13

“Am I ready to say that [Jim] Webb wins this? No. I still think Allen takes it.”

Ken Rudin,National Public Radio’s Political Junkie, September 22

AND THE WINNER IS ...

[Bob] Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania is going to be beaten by Rick Santorum and will go into political oblivion.”

Tony Blankley, McLaughlin,December 30, 2005

[Jim] Talent wins in Missouri.”

John Dickerson, Slate “Political Gabfest,” November 3

“I’m very impressed with the campaign that Harold [Ford] is running. . . . I do believe that he may be the surprise of the night.”

Donna Brazile, This Week With George Stephanopoulos, October 1

Diane Farrell will unseat Rep. Christopher Shays. . . . Shays’s change of stance on [Iraq] probably came too late to save his career.”

Larry Sabato and David Wasserman,“Crystal Ball 2006,” November 6

“Chris Shays . . . gone.”

Chuck Todd on CNBC’s The Tim Russert Show, November 4

FOREIGN FOLLIES

The McLaughlin Group panelists proved particularly inept at foreign affairs.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will be the next president of Mexico.”

John McLaughlin, June 30

“America will have direct negotiations with Iran over the nuclear question.”

Edward Luce, March 24

“Radical Ollanta Hum-ala, next president of Peru.”

Pat Buchanan, March 24

“I think the Iranians are going to be at war this year ... either with us or the Israelis. And the United States could be at war with Syria.”

Pat Buchanan,December 30, 2005

MISCELLANEOUS MISFIRES

“Not only will [the $2 minimum-wage increase] pass the House, but it’s also going to pass the Senate, and we will have a new minimum wage in the United States.”

Mort Zuckerman, McLaughlin, July 28

“Destined for political oblivion: Karl Rove, ensnared in the Valerie Plame case and maybe the Abramoff/Indian casino lobbying scandal. Like Icarus, Rove will crash and burn.”

—John McLaughlin, December 30, 2005