Politico recently judged President Donald Trump's prognostication that Alabama would feel the effects of Hurricane Dorian last August as its worst political prediction of 2019.
It's not clear how that is a political prediction, except that it came from a political figure, but if that was the worst political prediction in the past year, we must have had an awfully good year.
We feel qualified to comment on misplaced 2019 predictions only because we've made many — most not published, thankfully — in our time.
Barack Obama would not win the presidential nomination in 2008, we felt, because we frankly didn't believe enough Americans would vote for a black man, qualified or not, for president.
Then, we felt Obama would lose a very close election to Mitt Romney in 2012. All the polls — we realized four years later how wrong they could be — said the race had narrowed, and some said Romney had pulled ahead. And though Obama became the first U.S. president to receive fewer votes in his re-election than in his election, he still won handily enough.
And, of course, there's Trump. We openly believed and opined that he could not win the Republican nomination, then believed he certainly would be wiped out in the general election. We certainly were not alone in that thinking.
So as we enter 2020, we look back at other people's predictions for 2019 and realize how little we all really know.
As to Trump, "By the end of 2019," Stephen Kinzer of the Boston Globe wrote, as cited by Politico, "the president of the United States will be Nancy Pelosi." Or, predicted Democratic fundraiser Jon Cooper, the president will "resign from office before he can be impeached, citing health reasons."
For House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi to have become president, the president and Vice President Mike Pence would have had to resign in short order. Pence has not been implicated in the Russia mess Democrats tried to pin on Trump, so there was little chance of him leaving.
Pelosi, now with egg on her face from an impeachment a majority of Americans didn't want, is still in place.
We never thought about Trump resigning for health reasons, but we did think there was a chance after the Mueller report cleared him of collusion charges that he might declare he would not run for a second term — that he had accomplished "more than any other president in one term" and would return to the private sector.
As to this year's Democratic ticket, according to Politco, numerous pundits predicted former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke would be its presidential nominee, and Myra Adams of Real Clear Politics stated it would be California Sen. Kamala Harris. Both now have dropped out of the race, O'Rourke having been seen as an empty suit and Harris too arrogant for many voters.
We believe either New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker or former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick could have been the nominee had they had the early and strong backing of Obama. With that backing, either would have given Trump a good run, but neither currently has much support from early primary voters. Obama out of deference to the long dithering Joe Biden, his former vice president, remained quiet and has said he'll back whoever the party nominates.
Speaking of Biden, former George W. Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer publicly predicted the former veep would not run, and that was our early belief as well. We felt his age, his penchant for gaffes and his inability to point to any recent accomplishments that would resonate with voters would keep him out. Now, due mostly to his name recognition, he is the Democratic polling leader going into the year.
Among other predictions cited by Politico, numerous pundits concluded House Democrats would not impeach Trump, Democratic operative Patti Solis Doyle said Republicans would break ranks with an increasingly erratic Trump, and Fortune magazine envisioned House Democrats and Senate Republicans would work together to enact immigration reform.
Well, no, no and no.
Democrats may rue the day they impeached Trump, but now most of them have closed ranks in solidarity. Most Republicans, we believe, feel they can ride up or down with the president and not suffer too greatly. And though both parties have worked together on smaller legislation, the big ticket items have not found common ground.
Vox had a little more success in some of its 2019 predictions. The publication, for instance, declared with 90% certainty Trump still would be in office at the end of the year, with 80% certainty the U.S. would not enter a recession and with 60% certainty no Democratic presidential candidate would be a clear front runner at any point in 2019.
Right, right and right (at the end of the year).
How 2020 will turn out, though, we won't predict at this point. There's too much of a chance we'll be wrong.