Based on my fail rate in the 2012 primaries to date, my future as a political pundit–who makes predictions based, as commenter KKai put it, based on no firsthand knowledge or fact–is surely limited. Unless I want to work for Fox News.
A quick review of my predictions for the NH primary and their utter incorrectness:
1. Turnout will be strong, but not earthshaking. Bzzzzzzt. Totally wrong. Turnout was actually down from 2008, dropping from about 240,000 then to 225,000 this year. In NH, you don’t have to be a registered Republican to participate in the GOP primary; voters registered as independents may also participate, though doing so means that they can’t also vote in the Democratic party’s primary. Got that? So some pundits have argued that Ron Paul’s voters [all 56,000 of them] shouldn’t really be considered GOP voters–they are, the argument goes, mostly independents who won’t go for the GOP in the general election–and thus should be excluded from discussions of turnout for this primary. As Jon Stewart so beautifully illustrates, though, playing these kind of what if? mindgames with numbers is at best stupid and at worst delusional. What I will say is that if I were the state GOP chairperson, I would be working like mad on my GOTV [get out the vote] plans for November.
2. The media will declare Paul and the ghost of Jon Huntsman the winners, even though they’ll come in 2nd and 3rd. Again, not so much. While some in the media celebrated Paul’s strong showing [I’m looking at you, Andrew Sullivan], many others–assisted by the spin machine of the GOP establishment–were quick to dismiss him as a fringe candidate with no chance of winning the nomination and thus not worth discussing. And Hunstman? Poor, poor Huntsman. He sucked it up big time. His third place finish was so far out in the boonies that he became just a sad little dot in the rearview mirror as the press corps races off to South Carolina. Interesting guy, some actual credentials that might translate to 1600 Pennsylvania, but a godawful candidate with a painfully poor campaign machine.
3. Perry will come in dead last and give a truly epically embarrassing “concession” speech. Nope. He beat out Buddy Roemer and, given that he was campaigning in South Carolina on the day of the NH primary, Perry wasn’t around to strike a blow for freedom in the war against the Orcs. Oh well.
4. The results will come in much faster than in Iowa. It wasn’t even close. NBC News called it for Romney at 8:00 pm, just as the last polling places in the state were closing. I suppose was technically correct here, but I thought it would take more than 60 seconds after the polls closed to declare a winner. So fail for me too.
5. Buddy Roemer will get on TV on a program other than The Rachel Maddow Show. Sigh. Sadly, he did not.
6. Santorum who? Yes! I got this one right! Senator Sweater Vest was a non-entity on Tuesday night, placing a distant fourth. Now, you’d never know that based on this glowing [and, ok, really well written] profile from the Washington Post of Santorum’s primary organizer whose been working in South Carolina–the story makes it sound as though Ol’ Rick is ready to rise from the grave again and seduce the good people of South Carolina into making him the true anti-Romney. We’ll see what comes out of the Christian conservative pow-wow that’s happening this weekend–maybe the anti-Romney forces will find their voice in Santorum. We shall see.
[ETA: Well, the gig is up. The “Evangelical Super-Group,” as Dave Weigel dubs them, voted today to endorse Santorum. But, as Weigel points out, this is sort of akin to making wishes into a rainstorm: the group is not planning any focused movement or specific action to back up their endorsement. So, you know, FWIW, these folks declares themselves Team Santorum. Until he drops out, or Gingrich wins South Carolina, or until Romney crushes them all under the boot of Bain Capital. But, until then, Tony Perkins and company? They’re all in.]