2008 Predictions Scorecard (James Joyner)

As 2008 winds to an end, it’ll soon be time for the OTB staff to post its predictions for the coming year.   First, though, is the painful look back at our predictions for 2008.

Predictions that came to pass

  • The Republicans will eventually nominate someone, pundit chatter about a divided base notwithstanding.
  • “Ron Paul won’t win a single state primary. If he runs as a Libertarian or other third party, he won’t get a single electoral vote.”  (Paul came in 2nd place in 10 states and 3rd in 17.)
  • The eventual president will be either a Democrat or Republican, regardless of whether Ron Paul, Mike Bloomberg, or anyone else runs on a third party ticket.
  • “Nothing of any substance will be accomplished by the Congress on any of the following issues: immigration, healthcare, Social Security, education, product safety of imports.”
  • “President Bush will not be impeached by the House of Representatives” — nor will any past or former administration official be tried for war crimes.
  • The United States will have 100,000 or more troops in Iraq at year’s end. The trend toward lower body counts will continue but civil society will remain an elusive goal.
  • Vladimir Putin will still be running Russia at year’s end — but with a new title. (Arguably, this could go in the “Not Enough Data” category.  But most analysts think Putin’s still the Man.)
  • Neither the U.S. nor Israel will either bomb or invade Iran.
  • The Lisbon Treaty will fail, forcing a dramatic rethinking of the European Union’s agenda.
  • The Wall Street Journal will be a more successful paper with Rupert Murdock running it.
  • Sirius and XM will be allowed to merge.
  • The television writers strike will end but the major networks will never recover their market share, making it a lose-lose proposition.
  • The Boston Celtics will win the NBA championship.

Predictions that did not come to pass

  • The winner will be a Protestant white guy, defying predictions of the First Woman, First Black, or First Mormon President.  (If I were a lawyer, I’d claim to be mostly right here in that a Protestant guy was elected.  As a political scientist, however, this was all wrong.)
  • Pervez Musharraf will still be president of Pakistan at year’s end. One way or the other.  (He resigned on August 18th.  I’m happy to be wrong on this one.)
  • The New England Patriots will beat the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl, becoming the first 19-0 team in NFL history.  (The Pats went 18-0 before losing in the Super Bowl to the wild card New York Giants.  The Cowboys went 13-3 and then choked in the playoffs, losing to the Giants.)
  • The Atlanta Braves will win the World Series with a starting rotation of pitchers in the twilight of their careers.  (Instead, all three of their top pitchers wound up on the injured reserve and the team was quite mediocre.)
  • Katie Couric will not finish the year as anchor of the CBS Evening News.  (She’s rumored to be out in January, though.)
  • NBC will pull the plug on one of its cable news ventures. (Why they haven’t escapes me.)

Half-Right / Half-Wrong

  • The Democrats will retain both the Houses of Congress, picking up two seats in the Senate while losing fourteen of the House seats they picked up in 2006.  (Even aside from the over-specificity of the prediction, the Dems picked up House seats.)
  • Tiger Woods will win two Majors, passing Bobby Jones and coming within two of Jack Nicklaus.  (He won one in spectacular fashion — on a broken leg — but then sat out the rest of the season.)
  • The United States will finally win the gold medal in basketball again, along with the overall gold medal count, in this summer’s Olympic Games. Few will much care.  (China won the gold count easily, although the USA won more medals overall.)

Final Tally:  Actually, better than I remembered having done:  13-6-3.    If you take off the overly glib predictions, it falls to 11-6-3, which still isn’t bad.   I did, however, get the 2008 presidential election, World Series, and Super Bowl wrong, so not great on a weighted scale.

Correction:  I moved the Olympics prediction into the half/half category and updated the tally accordingly after a commenter pointed out that I’d ignored a third of my prediction.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He's a widower and father of two young daughers. He earned his PhD from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. kenny says:

    The United States will finally win the gold medal in basketball again, along with the overall gold medal count, in this summer’s Olympic Games

    Eh? China won 51 golds to the USA’s 36.


  2. Triumph says:

    The Wall Street Journal will be a more successful paper with Rupert Murdock running it.

    Just curious what you are basing this on? News Corp.’s stock is down like 60% from last year.


  3. James Joyner says:

    Just curious what you are basing this on? News Corp.’s stock is down like 60% from last year.

    Mostly on a series of articles I’ve seen like this one:

    Murdoch Now Seen as Wall Street Journal’s White Knight

    Daily Beast

    A year after Rupert Murdoch took over The Wall Street Journal, some of his harshest critics—including James Ottaway Jr.—admit that the business may be stronger now that the Bancrofts are gone.

    When Rupert Murdoch set out last year to purchase the Wall Street Journal from its controlling shareholders, the Bancroft family, there were howls from many insiders and board members.

    But as this Saturday’s anniversary of the takeover approaches, amid the worst newspaper recession ever, some of the takeover’s most vocal critics are recanting. Chief among them: James Ottaway Jr., whose family owned 6.2% of Dow Jones’s controlling shares.

    And this one:

    ‘Wall Street Journal’ Editor Sizes Up The Competition

    The newspaper industry is awash in red ink as more and more newspapers are up for sale or collapsing. In the latest spate of bad news, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune declared bankruptcy Monday.

    It’s a different story at The Wall Street Journal. A year after being taken over by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., the paper is expanding despite the sputtering economy, hiring reporters and doing more general-interest stories. Many say the shift is aimed squarely at another influential paper: The New York Times.