The List

Worst Predictions: Election Edition

The 10 dumbest calls of the campaign.

DICK MORRIS: A Romney blowout

"It will be the biggest surprise in recent American political history ... It will rekindle the whole question on why the media played this race as a nailbiter where in fact Romney's going to win by quite a bit." -Nov. 5

The onetime architect of Bill Clinton's "triangulation" strategy used to be highly sought after by both parties for his textured understanding of the U.S. electorate. That may no longer be the case after the Here Come the Black Helicopters! author and TV talking head predicted Romney would win 325 electoral votes. He wasn't entirely alone in bucking the conventional wisdom that, if Romney did win, it would be close. Washington Examiner political analyst Michael Barone had 315 for Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich -- citing the "Carville rule" -- thought he would go over 300.

NEWT GINGRICH: I got this in the bag

"I'm going to be the nominee. It's very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I'm going to be the nominee." -Dec. 1, 2011  

Speaking of Gingrich, remember this confident assertion by the former house leader? After winning the Florida primary, Gingrich was slightly more cautious, saying, "It is now clear that this will be two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate'' -- though he would eventually come in a distant third behind Rick Santorum.

JIM CRAMER: Obama superblowout

Obama: 440, Romney: 98 -Election prediction, Nov. 5

The voluble CNBC host went to the other extreme with an election map giving Obama wins in such liberal bastions as Texas, Georgia, and South Dakota. To be fair, Cramer may not have been entirely sincere in his prediction, tweeting, "No one is going to recall the guy who picks Obama by 10 electorals if it turns out to be 150 margin. Believe me." Maybe not, but they'll remember the guy who had it at 342 and not in a good way.

WEEKLY STANDARD: The Joe-Hillary switcheroo

"The likeliest time for an announcement that Biden is to be dumped would be just before the GOP convention-around Friday, August 24. This would step on the Republicans' planned buildup to their convention, and would give Hillary Clinton, perhaps the likeliest replacement, a couple of weeks to resign as Secretary of State to accept her place on the ticket, while arranging a smooth transition at Foggy Bottom." -Daniel Halper. Aug. 15

In retrospect, the speculation that the Obama campaign would drop the gaffe-prone Joe Biden in favor of Hillary Clinton was little more than a Drudge-baiting Washington parlor game in the dull weeks between the end of the GOP primary and the party conventions. But the venerable conservative weekly got just a wee bit caught up in it, posting a countdown clock ticking down the days Obama had left to make the switch. Gird your loins for four more years of Joe, guys.

KARL ROVE: Sarah Palin will run

"She has a schedule next week that looks like that of a candidate, not a celebrity.... This is her last chance. She either gets in or gets out after this visit next week. I think she gets in" -Aug. 20

Rove, George W. Bush's political guru, caused a minor meltdown at Fox News on election night by questioning the network's own projections for Ohio while on air, but "Bush's Brain" has been making questionable calls about the race for months. Runner up in this category goes to William Kristol, who wrote in June that Rudy Giuliani would "throw his hat in the ring soon."

RUDY GIULIANI: It's Rubio. I can feel it.

"My instinct tells me Marco Rubio." -Aug. 10

America's mayor made some questionable predictions of his own, telling Fox's Sean Hannity that the Florida senator and Tea Party favorite was Romney's most likely choice for veep. Given that Rubio never seemed particularly interested in the role and disagrees with Romney on a number of critical issues, this was a case where Giuliani might have wanted to second-guess his kishkas.

DEAN CHAMBERS: The polls are skewed

"The latest New York Times/CBS News poll of the presidential race released today is yet another doctored poll that shows President Obama leading when its data indicates a Mitt Romney lead." -Oct. 31

If the now-vindicated New York Times blogger Nate Silver is the big winner among the stats geeks last night, the loser is probably Chambers, who had for weeks been "correcting" what he saw as liberal bias in national polls on his website Unskewed Polls. Chambers's final projection had Romney winning with 275 electoral votes and 51 percent of the popular vote. Chalk one up for the pollsters. Although...

FRANK LUNTZ: The Denver debate will cost Obama the election

"Thanks to your bookies, this American is preparing to make a lot of money. If the British public currently think Barack Obama is coasting to victory in the Nov. 6 election, they are gravely mistaken. Mitt Romney can win this election. No doubt about it. And it will be because of the first presidential debate on October 3 -- a battle of ideas and ideologies that changed American politics as we know it. That day, Romney came to fight and Obama became his punching bag." -Oct. 29

Luntz, a Republican consultant and Fox News analyst, wasn't the only one to overreact a bit to Obama's tepid performance in Denver. "He choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight," wrote the rabidly pro-Obama blogger Andrew Sullivan. But a professional pollster should probably know better than to think one debate would permanently alter the state of the race. Hopefully he didn't bet too much.

JOHN MCCAIN: Benghazi could cost Obama Florida

"I know there is 1.6 million veterans in Florida. They are angry. They have lost their trust in this commander in chief." -Nov. 5

Er, not so much. The senator and former presidential candidate was adamant in the closing days of this campaign that the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi consulate attack would cost the president dearly. When, during a CNN segment, the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza countered that voters were probably more concerned about the economy, McCain shot back: "Veterans are upset. Maybe Mr. Lizza doesn't understand that and I wouldn't expect him to, to tell you the truth." In the end, the percentage of voters in exit polls, including in Florida, who cited international issues as a major concern was in the single digits.

NIALL FERGUSON: Obama planning Mideast surprise

"No, the only kind of surprise I can envisage is a foreign-policy surprise. And if the polls get any scarier for the incumbent, we might just have one." -Oct. 29

Many wondered whether confrontation over Iran's nuclear program would lead to war this year. But some took it a bit too far. In a widely panned column for Newsweek, the Harvard historian-turned-pundit suggested that with polls tightening, Obama could "end all talk of his being Jimmy Carter to Mitt Romney's Reagan... by supporting an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities." Ferguson should probably stick to writing about the past.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The List

What You Missed While You Were Refreshing Drudge and FiveThirtyEight

A guide to the world news you should get caught up on now that the election is over.

Violence in Syria

Some 32,000 people have been killed since March 2011 in Syria's escalating civil war. A U.N.-supported ceasefire broke down before it even began in late October, and government forces have continued shelling rebel-held areas while opposition forces continue to make incremental gains. Amid concerns that Islamist militants are hijacking the opposition movement, the United States is now pushing for a new umbrella opposition group to replace the fractious Syrian National Council. The council complains that it is losing ground to Islamist groups because of Western governments' continued refusal to supply more moderate factions with weapons.

Transition in China

The U.S. isn't the only superpower choosing it's next leader this month -- though there's a bit less suspense in China. The 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will convene on Nov. 8 -- amid unprecedented levels of security (no pigeons or ping-pong balls allowed) -- to begin the process of handing over power to the heir apparent, Xi Jinping. As with many senior Chinese leaders, Xi's background and political outlook are something of a cipher, but he will have his hands busy from day one, coping with an uncertain economic future, the aftermath of high-profile corruption scandals, and rising tensions with Japan.

Europe's Permacrisis

The much feared break-up of the eurozone seems unlikely for the moment, thanks to signs that European leaders and the German government are willing to engage in the bond-buying measures necessary to preserve the currency union. But all is still not well in Euroland. Eurozone unemployment has hit 11.6 percent -- 25.8 percent in Spain -- and Greek workers, increasingly fed up with government austerity measures, are taking to the streets. Add to that a new wave of separatism from Catalonia to Scotland, to Flanders and fears of a looming "Brixit" from the European Union, and the drama appears unlikely to end any time soon.

Intervention in Mali

Since a March 22 military coup allowed armed groups to seized control of a territory the size of France, northern Mali has been in a state of chaos. More than 300,000 people have fled the region as Islamist militias have imposed a harsh brand of sharia law. With fears growing that the region could become a new breeding ground for international terrorism and threaten the stability of neighboring countries, calls are growing for international intervention. Representatives of the United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and European Union are currently finalizing plans for an international peacekeeping force to be sent to the region, and the United States has been pressing regional governments to support the mission.

The Drone War in Yemen

U.S. counterterrorism operations in Pakistan may have gotten attention on the campaign trail -- particularly the killing of a certain terrorist mastermind -- but the covert air war in Yemen has been steadily escalating with little public notice. There have been more than 35 suspected U.S. drone strikes in Yemen this year, at one point killing 29 people in just a week. White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan has described the Yemen operations as a "model of what I think the U.S. counterterrorism community should be doing" and Yemen's new president has endorsed the program, meaning that U.S. drones are likely to continue filling Yemeni skies for the foreseeable future.

Israeli Politics

Israel is holding national elections on Jan. 22, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already upended the country's political establishment by announcing the merger of his Likud Party with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu. Formalizing the alliance with the pro-settlement party means that Netanyahu's government seems unlikely to prioritize peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, is facing condemnation from his more hard-line rivals for recent comments suggesting he might be willing to give up on the Palestinian right of return.

North Korea

The latest report from the North Korea rumor mill is that Kim Jong Un is having senior generals executed by mortar fire. Whether or not that's completely true, it's clear that the young leader is working to consolidate his power and eliminate potential rivals from within the country's powerful military establishment. Early hopes that Kim might put his isolated country on the path to economic reform appear to have been premature. The frontrunner in South Korea's presidential election, conservative Park Geun-Hye, has promised to restart talks with Pyongyang if elected. South Korean police recently blocked activists from sending balloons carrying anti-communist leaflets across the border after the North had threatened military retaliation.


Disappointing those who hoped the tiny Persian Gulf monarchy and key U.S. ally might liberalize its political culture in the wake of last year's Arab Spring protests, Bahrain announced on Oct. 30 that it was banning all public protest. The government says the ban is temporary and is meant to "calm things down" after recent protests resulted in the deaths of protesters and police officers. On Nov. 5, five bombs exploded in the capital, Manama, killing two people.


While rumors swirl over President Vladimir Putin's whereabouts and health, the political situation continues to grow tense. Prominent opposition activists have been arrested and fined under new laws giving the government sweeping powers to punish disturbances of public order. A new Internet law, which is ostensibly aimed at protecting children from pornography but which activists fear could be use to smother political speech, went into effect at the end of October. On Nov. 4, Russian ultranationalists took to the streets of Moscow to protest what they see as Putin's accommodating policies toward immigrants. Meanwhile, the jailed members of the now world-famous political punk band Pussy Riot have been moved to remote prison camps.


The country is still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, but recent political reforms are making waves as well. Raúl Castro's government recently announced that it would welcome back those who fled the country after 1994. It has also announced a new plan to make it easier for Cubans to leave and return to the country. The reform comes at a time when the number of Cubans seeking to reach the United States has sharply increased. As for former leader Fidel Castro, he's apparently still around, having recently published a newspaper op-ed scoffing at reports that he is near death.