The Best and Worst Pundit Predictors of 2012

With Mitt Romney (finally) conceding Florida to Barack Obama, we have the final electoral college breakdown for this year's contest, meaning we can finally award prizes to our most right (and wrong) pundits.

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With Mitt Romney (finally) conceding Florida to Barack Obama, we have the final electoral college breakdown for this year's contest, meaning we can finally award prizes to our most right (and wrong) pundits. In the end Obama got 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's 206, with Obama getting all the swing states besides North Carolina. That was a combination not too many people predicted, but a few people out there deserve recognition for getting it right. There are also a lot of people out there who deserve a shout-out for getting close. And then there are all the people who were so very wrong. Time for some accountability, people.

The Most Correct Pundit(s) In All the Land

Prize: Gold Stars

To give credit where it's due, three of our predictors, two of whom might not generally fall in the "pundit" category, got the electoral vote breakdown just right. They deserve gold medals, but since this is just a blog post, they will have to settle with their names in bold, bullet points, and the title of best ever. Also deserving of this medal is our one pundit who got the closest to nailing the popular vote.

  • Nate Silver. You have probably already heard about how well this New York Times's number cruncher did this election season. But now that it's official, official, we can officially call him the most accurate electoral college predictor of 2012, with his 332-206 breakdown, including the close race in Florida. He also did pretty well on popular vote, which RealClearPolitics has at 50.4 to 48. His came in at 50.8 to 48.3. Not bad.
  • Markos Moulitsas, The Daily Kos. He came to the right conclusion with the following logic. "Currently, national polling assumes a big dropoff from registered voters to likely voters. I don't believe that'll be the case," he wrote. And, while it looks like voter turnout was lower than 2008, his prediction still came out right. Well done. 
  • Drew Linzer, Emory. Using a statistical model, this political science professor got it right. Math for the win, again.
  • Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect. He didn't get the electoral college right, giving Florida to Mitt. But he did get closest to the popular vote with a prediction of 50.4 to 48.2.

The So-Close but Still Wrong Runners-Up

Prize: Pats on the back, virtually.

These people got oh-so-close, either calling the popular vote, or getting the electoral college just a few states off.

  • If Florida Had Gone for Mitt: Then the following people would have won: Matt Matros (poker player), John Sides (The American Prospect), Matthew Dowd (ABC News), and Jennifer Granholm.
  • If Florida and Virginia Had Gone to Mitt: Greg Re from The Daily Caller, PBS's Christina Bellantoni, MSNBC's Melissa Harris Perry, Bhaskar Sunkara from In These Times, Larry Sabato and his Crystal Ball, Wonk Blog's Ezra Klein, and Timothy P. Carney at The Washington Examiner. 
  • Sam Wang. This Princeton researcher had the Florida-to-Mitt scenario. But he did mention the actual result as the next most likely case, so he gets his own bullet point. 

The Too Scared to Make Real Predictions, But Still Winners By Default

Prize: Sarcastic Thumbs Up (we're doing them right now)

So these people said Obama would win without giving an electoral breakdown. They technically got it right. But they had a 50 percent chance of that, so, they don't deserve too much praise. No bullet points for you.

Allan "Never Wrong Pundit" Lichtman, John McWhorter, and Nate Silver nemesis and MSNBC talking head Joe Scarborough.

The People Who Made the Most Unbelievable Predictions

Prize: Permanently Disbarred from Political Punditry

These people must have been kidding when they threw out these ridiculous numbers, so from now on we should call them comedians not pundits.

  • Jim Cramer's infamous crazy 440 electoral votes for Obama prediction 
  • Anyone who gave Romney more than 300 votes. That includes the apologetic Newt Gingrich, The Hill's Dick Morris and Jamie Weinstein, Washington Examiner's Michael Barone, George Will (suggested Minnesota would go to Romney), Glenn Beck, Ed Morrissey, Larry Kudlow, Dean Chambers from Unskewed Polls (...), and James Pethokoukis at The American Enterprise Institute. 
  • Anyone who said Obama would lose Pennsylvania. Obama got 52 percent of the vote here and won by 5 points. It wasn't really a swing state going in. That's you: David Martosko of The Daily Caller.

The Pundits With the Most Ridiculous Reasoning

Prize: Scarlet Letters.

These people just guessed based on nothing and paid for it in being wrong. Now they will pay for it further.

  • Peggy Noonan. She had Romney winning because of "vibrations."
  • Meredith Jessup, The Blaze. Her reasoning for giving Romney 295-243. New Hampshire's State Motto: "The state may be surrounded by northeastern liberals, but its motto is “Live Free or Die.”  I can’t believe such a pro-freedom state would side with Michael Bloomberg in favor of Obama."
  • People who "split the difference" between two states because it felt fair.  Philip Klein used this logic at the Washington Examiner. "So, I’ve decided to split the difference in my prediction," he wrote. That's not how this works.

All the Other Career Pundits That Got It Wrong

Prize: Pundits for Life

You guys do this talking for a living and you just lost to the people who use statistical modeling and polling. We sentence you to a life of punditry.

Here's the full chart of all the pundit predictions. See you in 2014!

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.