Vote: Best Political Prediction of 2012

December 6, 2012  |  Politics

2012 has been a rough year for political pundits: just witness all the F grades on the Politics page. Not only did the conservative pundits royally whiff on their election predictions, but the entire pundit community suffered the ignominy of being upstaged by both the quants and the crowd (see our post on Nate Silver versus Intrade).

After sifting through our catalog of predictions that came due this year, we were able to unearth a few gems among the rubble. We used a systematic approach to narrow down our list of predictions to three candidates, using what we call our “$1 Yield” metric. For those new to the site, we believe that a pundit’s batting average (% of calls that were correct) is a meaningless statistic without context, as it fails to incorporate how bold the predictions were. Anyone can achieve a 100% batting average by predicting each day that the sun will rise tomorrow, after all. Our pundit scoring system explicitly incorporates “boldness” by making virtual $1 bets on each prediction using consensus odds at the time of the call.

Each of these three predictions was viewed by consensus as having less than a 25% chance of coming true (so a Yield greater than $4).


Chris Cillizza: House of Representatives will end up 234 Republicans, 201 Democrats

After a series of recounts, the final tally came in just as Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post predicted. Interestingly, Cillizza made a couple of other notable predictions that are still outstanding: (1) John Kerry will be Secretary of State, and if so, (2) Scott Brown will take over Kerry’s spot in the Senate.


Michael Tomasky: Obama will win re-election AND Democrats will hold Senate AND Republicans will hold the House

Tomasky (Daily Beast) hit the trifecta here. While the odds this prediction grew throughout the year, Tomasky made it in December 2011, when it was considered unlikely. Intrade, for instance, pegged the probability at roughly 20%.


James Carville: Mitt Romney will be the GOP Nominee

While this prediction hardly sounds bold today, Carville issued it way back in March 2011, when Intrade placed the odds at about 24%. Note that our “Best and Worst” predictions of 2012 are based on when the predictions come due, not when they were made. Otherwise, long-term predictions would forever evade accountability — in other words, the prediction made in 2011 which comes due in 2012 would never be scored.

We will announce the winner in two weeks, at which time we will also reveal our awards for Best and Worst Pundit of 2012.



Were there better predictions out there that we missed? Let us know by e-mailing us or leaving a comment here. While we try to cast as wide a net as possible, inevitably some predictions slip through the cracks. That’s why we strongly encourage our users to submit predictions when they are made — just send the pundit’s name and a link — and we will put them up on

We are now tracking more than 120 pundits on With the 2013 Predictions rolling in, check out all the latest predictions and enter the PT Challenge to compete with the “experts” and win prizes.






  1. Excuse me? The best political prediction of 2012 was NATE SILVER calling every Senate race correctly AND steadily maintaining the Obama was a comfortable favorite for re-election when every screeching head was insisting the race was ‘tight as a tick’ and Romney was planning fireworks displays over Boston.

    Not nominating Nate = FAIL

    • Nate isn’t a pundit. He works dispassionately, from real data. These guys are educated guessers, and while I don’t doubt the educated part, people need to recognize that crystal balls are props, not instruments. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out next time. I’d like to think that Nate and others like him have changed the game, but really, what are the odds of that?

      Besides, how will we fill the endless, empty months of an American presidential campaign if all we have to talk about is how to account for co-variance between state and national polls.

      Pundits are in the entertainment business, and should be judged accordingly. On that basis, the winner has to be Carville, even though his “prediction” was the most predictable of all.

      • ? I am fascinated by this distinction- Nate Silver is not a pundit because he “works with data”. It seems to me a pundit is someone who’s paid a salary to give their opinions about politics.

        I bemoan some pundits’ willful ignorance- I would never have posited it as a work requirement.

        • I would actually support that definition – pundits don’t work from data. And as it turns out, they don’t even work from soft data, like inside connections or experience. They just bloviate.

  2. Brendan H., you sound a lot like Ken M.


  1. Grading Michael Tomasky's Predictions for 2012 | PunditTracker Blog
  2. Votes are in: The Best Political Prediction for 2012 | PunditTracker Blog

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