My Failed Predictions for the 2016 Presidential Election So Far
2016 has brought about another ridiculous Presidential cycle, and several wrong predictions made by me. Here are some of the things I've claimed would or would not happen only to watch as the very opposite happened.
Probably the biggest mistake I made was predicting early on that Donald Trump's popularity would fade over time. Perhaps inspired by H. L. Mencken's dictum that someday "the White House will be adorned by a downright moron," I've long said that a reality star would someday be elected President of the United States, but I didn't believe that the time was now. I knew that Trump would be popular for a little while after he announced his candidacy, but I also thought he would fade long before any votes were cast.
We've now had three Republican primaries and Donald Trump has crushed the competition in two of them while coming in a respectable second in the third. It will be interesting to see how he does when it comes down to just him going head to head with either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, but by the time one of them drops out it may be too late for the other to catch Trump. Nor is it a given that they would even if given the chance. Trump has exceeded everyone's expectations and nothing seems to touch him. It is not only likely that Trump will be the Republican nominee but that he will also be a strong contender in the general election, which is something I would have said was impossible in the Summer of 2015.
Another prediction that I was extremely confident in was that no man was going to be any kind of threat to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. To put it bluntly, I believed that Democrats elected the first black President in 2008 and that they would without question want to make history again by electing the first woman President in 2016. I thought the only person who could pose any kind of credible challenge to Hillary would have been Elizabeth Warren, but I didn't think that she'd run. I strongly believe that Warren will run in the future, but she'll wait until she can have a clearer path to the nomination.
When I found out that Bernie Sanders was going to run against Hillary I dismissed him completely. Who would take a socialist that honeymooned in the Soviet Union with flyaway hair seriously against the Clinton political machine? I certainly didn't think the Democratic Party would allow an independent Senator a real shot at their nomination, which has largely been true, but Democratic Party voters are bucking the party leadership in their support for Sanders. Clinton's victories in Iowa and Nevada have been very close, but Bernie's victory in New Hampshire was a complete blowout. This shows that the Democratic Party is in for a bit of the same inter-party fighting that has been going on in the GOP for the last decade or so.
The prediction I'm most disappointed to have been wrong about was when I claimed that Ted Cruz would not be competitive when it came to the Ron Paul vote. Sadly, many Ron Paul supporters, not impressed by Rand Paul, were fooled by Ted Cruz's pandering to them on issues like auditing the Federal Reserve. I'd like to think that this group was more principled, if only for my own vanity as a Ron Paul supporter in 2008 and 2012, but the fact that many have gone on to support Cruz, Donald Trump, and even Bernie Sanders shows that there were plenty of people who voted for Ron Paul that weren't necessarily "true believers" in the ideas he was putting out there. This is good from an electoral perspective, he was reaching out beyond his core supporters, but disheartening from a more principled perspective.
I won't claim that all of my predictions were wrong, I'm not Bill Kristol after all, but it is fun to look at the evidence that one is far from infallible. We're not yet done with the primary season, let alone the general election, so there's plenty of time for me to look like an even bigger fool. Here are some new predictions that we can analyze when it's all said and done.
The general election will be Donald Trump (R) going up against Hillary Clinton (D). I think Hillary will beat Bernie, but it won't be a completely smooth ride for her even going forward from Nevada. I think Hillary will be elected President, but that her victory will be far narrower than either of Obama's victories.
I think Bernie will win more states, but won't make it into the Summer. I think he will immediately endorse Hillary to the consternation of a large segment of his supporters who incorrectly see him as a principled political outsider.
And just for kicks, I think Gary Johnson will once again win the Libertarian Party nomination, but that he will do worse in 2016 than he did in 2012.