How Pundits Are Explaining Their Totally Wrong Election Predictions

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With Florida still out we have yet to crown a winner of our election pundit predictions contest, but we have dubbed a lot of people wrong losers in the race to be the predictive champion. Now that we've outed them as poor tea leaf readers, it's time for the justification phase of pundit predictions. While some of our political talking heads are bashful, admitting that they were plain wrong, not all of these pundits want to accept the truth. Guys, take it from Romney, a noble concession speech is the way to go in these situations. 

The (Sort of) Apologizers 

These are our classiest losers. They were totally wrong and they admit it, even if they don't sound too-too sorry about it. 

  • Newt Gingrich predicted Romney would win with "at least 300 electoral votes." That obviously didn't play out. Here is what he said to CNN. "I was wrong.". Simple and true. Why? He was just looking at the wrong things. "We all thought we understood the historical pattern, and the fact that with this level of unemployment, with this level of gasoline prices what would happen." he added. "The country was looking at a different set of things than we were looking at."
  • The Washington Examiner's Michael Barone at first falls under this category, too. He too said Romney would win, giving him 315 votes. He begins his concession column with some remorse. "The results are in and I was wrong when I predicted that Mitt Romney would win 315 electoral votes. For those of you who sent in nasty emails and for those who sent in reasoned arguments that I was wrong, please be assured that I will be on a diet of crow for some time," he writes. 

Recommended Reading

Update 3:52 p.m.:

  • Ross Douthat over at The New York Times explains that his less starry eyed prediction of 275 electoral votes for Obama wanted to believe in something that didn't exist. He writes:

It was remarkable how many analysts not normally known for their boosterism (I’m thinking of Michael Barone and George Will in particular) were willing to predict that Romney would not only win but win sweepingly, capturing states that haven’t gone Republican since Reagan. But even less starry-eyed conservatives — like, well, myself — were willing to embrace models of the electorate that overstated the Republican base of support and downplayed the Democrats’ mounting demographic advantage.

The Justifiers 

These are the people that admit they were wrong, but instead of apologizing, they talk about all the reasons their prediction made the most sense at the time.  

  • Barone also belongs here. After he talks about how wrong he was he says the following: "I will still defend my prediction as reasonable," he writes, explaining that this had nothing to do with what voters want, but campaign strategies from the Obama camp.
  • Dick Morris from The Hill does a fabulous job at making it look like his prediction should have panned out but didn't for reasons outside of his control. He had Romney with 325 electoral votes. First of all, who would have thought the "media polls" would ever take an accurate reading of what was going on in America, he argues. "I derided the media polls for their assumption of what did, in fact happen: That blacks, Latinos, and young people would show up in the same numbers as they had in 2008. I was wrong." But the thing he blames most? An uncontrollable natural disaster that most affected voters in deep blue states. "But the more proximate cause of my error was that I did not take full account of the impact of hurricane Sandy and of Governor Chris Christie’s bipartisan march through New Jersey arm in arm with President Obama. Not to mention Christe’s fawning promotion of Obama’s presidential leadership," he writes. "It made all the difference." So, if it weren't for Sandy, Romney would have won. And more importantly, he would have been right. Hmm. He also went on Fox and Friends, explaining the same thing. 

The Refuseniks

These are the people who refuse to admit they were wrong, even though the numbers prove they lost. 

  • Karl Rove gave Romney a close win with 279 electoral votes and he really didn't want to believe he lost it. Did you see what happened on Fox News last night? After the network called Ohio and the election for Obama, he made Fox News's Megyn Kelly double check that with their election desk.  This morning Rove returned to the network, explaining how Obama won the election. "Basically Obama kept the coalition that he had in 2008, only it was a little bit smaller," he said, reverting to the same theories as our justifiers. "If we're gonna win in the future, Republicans are gonna have to do better among Latinos and among women," Rove said, noting that Obama lost 3 percent in support from women.
  • Larry Sabato, who runs the site Crystal Ball, had Obama winning with 290 votes, which at 303 right now (without a result from Florida) makes him close, but he could be wrong if Obama goes to 332 with a victory in the Sunshine State. He claimed to Fox & Friends this morning that he changed that to 303 the day of election. Though, that's not on his site. He also sort of conceded that 303 was wrong since he also said he never expected Florida to go to Obama. Still nowhere does he refute Fox & Friends' take that "he was right on the money." 

Update 4:19 p.m.:

  • Ann Coulter's version of conceding the loss is the following tweet. She predicted "at least 273" votes for Romney, making her less wrong than Barone, per this logic.



The Silent Majority 

These are the people who would like us to forget that they ever made a wrong prediction. Not wanting to draw attention to their bad punditry, they just don't say anything at all. Well, here's our chart for all of those people, including the ones who had Obama winning, but got the state match-up wrong. Just because these people picked the guy, doesn't mean they were any more right. (We're looking at you Jim Cramer.) 


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