The end of the year is a time to look back at when this column was right and when it was off the mark.
- With hindsight, a number of my correct predictions may seem unremarkable, but at the time I took some heat from readers. I heard a number of complaints back in February, when I declared Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R-Pa.) candidacy as good as dead. Even up to the end, I heard that Santorum had come from behind in all of his races and that the race was sure to close up. At the end of the day, this underdog would not hunt, and Santorum’s 18-point loss was consistent with the results of the over 50 public polls taken since I wrote the column.
- At the end of 2005, I was very clear that then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) would not survive in the leadership or in Congress, and for this I received calls from DeLay’s office and others. Soon after there was a series of convocations of lobbyists, who showed their undying support for DeLay by hosting prominent fundraisers, even on his primary victory night. But the “Hammer” did fall and took his Texas seat down with him.
- I spotted very early in the year the tension between the House and the Senate on immigration, which had lain dormant in the first five years of the Bush presidency but came out in full flower in 2006.
- Finally, back in the spring, I foretold the Hoyer-Murtha race being a divisive interlude in what should have been a time of unity and celebration for the new Democratic majority.
Regrets, I’ve Had a Few . . .
- In March, I declared Rep. Mark Kennedy (Minn.) to be the Republicans’ best hope to pick up a Senate seat. It turned out that Republicans had no hope in the Senate. Kennedy was a big disappointment, losing 58-38 to Amy Klobuchar. Kennedy was only the fifth best hope in a hopeless Republican year.
- The biggest blunder of the year was a June column where I offered a sound-bite analysis of the Ned Lamont-Joe Lieberman Connecticut Democratic primary, boldly proclaiming that losing to Lamont “would likely be disastrous. To win, Lieberman has to win the primary.” I wasn’t satisfied to leave it at that. After Lieberman lost the primary, I penned an entire column on the subject, sticking by my guns that Lieberman could not win as an Independent.
- As many readers have reminded me, I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong (is that enough contrition?). However, in my defense, I will note how unusual this race was and how it defied the traditional laws of politics. The key factor for which I did not account was the extent to which the Republican Party could throw its own candidate, Alan Schlesinger, under the bus.
- In a normal year in Connecticut, a no-name Republican gets 35 percent of the vote against Sen. Chris Dodd (D) or Lieberman. In a three-way race, that same Republican should be able to get 25 or at least 20 percent. The Republican Party calculated that Schlesinger could not win and if Republican voters turned out for Lieberman, then they would also support Republican House candidates. The strategy worked.
- Exit polls showed that only a third of Democrats supported Lieberman, compared to 70 percent of Republicans. I challenge readers to find any congressional candidate in history who won with more votes from the other party than his own.
But no more excuses. Mea culpa and Happy New Year, Senator Lieberman.
John C. Fortier is a research fellow at AEI.