News & Politics

Our Five Best Political Predictions of the Decade

And three times we were way off

Photo courtesy Creative Commons.

“How could anyone have foreseen our modern political landscape?” the pundits cry. Well, turns out we did. After digging through the Washingtonian archives, we found some of our best political predictions from the past decade and tested how they withstood the test of time.

Prediction: Merrick Garland will be the next Supreme Court justice 

When: April and May 2010

Results: False. Twice.

Poor Merrick Garland. In April of 2010, we ran the piece “Garland a Supreme Court Shoo-In?” amidst rumblings of Justice John Paul Stevens’ imminent retirement. In our May 2010 “Guest List,” we wrote he was “on every shortlist for the Supreme Court.” Justice Elena Kagan got the nomination instead in 2010. Garland was kicked to the curb yet again in 2016 when Mitch McConnell’s Senate refused to acknowledge him as Barack Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia.


Prediction: In the future, the White House and the Kremlin will tweet at each other 

When: August 2010

Results: True

After then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev set up a Twitter account during a June US visit, President Barack Obama joked that they could get rid of the “red phones” that connect the capitals and just tweet at each other instead. Ha. Hahahaha. Nobody is laughing now Barack.


Prediction: Rep. Aaron Schock will star in a scandal

When: September 2010

Results: True

Our 2010 “Best & Worst of Congress” put Aaron Schock in the number two slot for “most likely to star in a scandal.” And did he ever deliver. Schock resigned in 2015 after reporters discovered he had been inappropriately using government and campaign funding to pay for workout DVDs, Super Bowl tickets, and (thank you gods of chaos) a Downton Abbey-inspired redecoration of his congressional office.


There are some takes from that year that have not aged as well. Among them, Lindsey Graham nabbing the number two pick for “least partisan,” and Amy Klobuchar securing the number three spot for “funniest.” Yes, the same Amy Klobuchar who once ate a salad with a dirty comb after berating a staffer for not bringing a fork.


Prediction: Rick Perry is a future superstar of the GOP

When: October 2011

Results: False

Even in 2011, we knew Rick Perry was a little, ah, eccentric. But Dallas Morning News Washington bureau chief Todd Gillman said “the guy’s political instincts are incredible,” and Texas Tribune reporter Jay Root said, “Rick Perry has the best political radar that’s ever been created.” How could they have possibly forseen Perry’s “Oops” moment in the 2011 debates when he forgot what the Department of Energy was? Or that in 2019 he would resign from that very same agency after getting embroiled in Trump’s impeachment as one of “the three amigos” responsible for handling US-Ukraine relations?


Prediction: Donald Trump will never be Secretary of State

When: July 2012

Results: Well….true?

In a piece that postulated who Mitt Romney would pick for his Cabinet if he won the election, we mentioned that Donald Trump wanted in. More specifically, he said he’d like “a position where I negotiate against some of these countries, because they are really taking our lunch.” Alright, so his current position certainly fits that description, but since he was talking about being Secretary of State at the time, we’re going to take the W where we can.

Prediction: Jesse Jackson Jr. will star in a scandal

When: September 2012

Results: True

Like Schock, Jesse Jackson Jr. was the number two slot for “most likely to star in a scandal” in our 2012 “Best & Worst of Congress” list. And, like Schock, Jackson was found guilty of misusing campaign funds in 2013, in his case via conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud.

Prediction: Ivanka Trump is someone to watch out for in DC

When: January 2013

Results: Truer than we thought

Ivanka Trump made our January 2013 “Guest List” thanks to her efforts to convert the Old Post Office Pavilion into the Trump Hotel DC. Described then as a “budding real-estate magnate [who] is becoming a regular in Washington,” we had no idea just how “regular” she’d become.


Prediction: The 2016 election will be Hillary Clinton v. Paul Ryan

When: January 2013

Results: Half true

Well, we got the Democratic nominee right. Then there was our GOP analysis. Not only did Ryan not even run in 2016, we said some of his top competitors would be Scott Walker (?), Rick Perry (??), and Sarah Palin (?????). Nobody could have seen a Trump win in 2013, but seriously, Sarah Palin?

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.