Political Predictions: The Year in Review

The day after Election Day, 2006, I offered the following laundry list of predictions, most of which have proven to be, um, a little off: "My predictions: (1) With Congress safely stowed away for the D's, Jim McDermott will draw a very serious primary challenger for the first time in forever. (2) Seeing as they're essentially backed by the same New Democrat power players, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will not square off against one another in the presidential primary. Clinton will let Obama take on likely Republican nominee John McCain, and bide her time for 2012 or 2016, using the interim to continue to surprise people with her diligence, sincerity, and ability to work across the aisle. (3) Having said McCain will be the likely nominee, I'm betting he either: (a) faces a health crisis that prevents him from running or (b) loses his marbles on the trail. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will end up being the party's nominee, and will lose a squeaker to Obama, the Dems' brightest star since Kennedy (JFK, that is?not red-nosed Teddy and his hard-livin' progeny)."

I'm lucky I don't live in Britain, where I could have put my money where my mouth was. As it's turned out, only one of these predictions looks even nominally plausible: Obama v. Romney. I no longer think Obama will win "a squeaker" over Romeny -- I think he'll roll Romney, whose propensity for flip-flopping makes John Kerry look like the Rock of Gibraltar. If I'm a Democrat (and, alright, I am), two general election matchups scare me: Giuliani v. Clinton and McCain v. Anyone. If Hillary runs against a centrist like Giuliani, she not only stokes the latent embers of the hard right, but loses male baby boomer swing voters, a potentially lethal combination. As for McCain, he's made all the wrong moves politically since his maverick '00 run. Yet he remains something of a media darling whose Vietnam POW experience gives him a card to play that is still more powerful than any other in the field. If he can find his independent rhythm again -- a tall order, granted -- he might yet muster the strength to win an election that was considered his to lose as recently as 2006.

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