Our Pundit Screw-Ups of the Year

Dana Milbank and Dave Weigel take themselves to task
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2011 12:47 PM CST
Our Pundit Screw-Ups of the Year
Pundits' crystal balls are often less than reliable.   (Shutterstock)

Political pundits are in the business of making predictions—usually secure in the knowledge that no one will remember when they mess up. “We’re not always wrong,” writes Dave Weigel of Slate. “But we’re wrong enough.” He and Dana Milbank of the Washington Post both chose this week to look back over their year in botched punditry. The highlights include:

  • Both believed that Rick Perry would be a contender; Weigel especially “drank deep at the Rick Perry well,” defending even his stances on Social Security, the HPV vaccine, and immigration. Milbank predicted that he would “hold his own” in the debates.
  • Both figured Newt Gingrich was done for. Milbank wrote in June that he was “finished whether he knows it or not.”
  • In August, Milbank called Michele Bachmann a “formidable” candidate.
  • Weigel confidently predicted that Republicans wouldn’t cave on the payroll tax extension—just two days before they did.
Weigel says he made a conscious effort to make fewer calls this year, while Milbank counsels would-be prognosticators to focus on big-picture trends. “Trying to predict the daily back-and-forth of politics is like trying to make sense of gyrations in the stock market,” Milbank says, adding that if anyone on TV says they know how Iowa’s caucuses will turn out “they’re making it up.” (Read more David Weigel stories.)

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