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Hot hunches for the politics of tomorrow.

As Tip O'Neill didn't say, all politics is vocal. Especially when the noise comes from professional babblers who preen as canny analyzers of election outcomes. On Nov. 7, the experts' lack of expertise was again on dismal display.

Two days before Election Day, The Washington Post staged its 13th biennial "Crystal Ball Contest" by publishing the forecasts of some of the mouthiest people in Washington: Christopher Matthews, Mary Matalin, Morton Kondracke and the MSNBC cutie pie Tucker Carlson. Other prognosticators, including a 10th-grade civics class, were political operatives like Paul Kirk, Amy Walter, Kellyann Conway and Fred Wertheimer. The latter aren't much known outside the Beltway, except when taking to the lecture circuit to dispense the latest wisdom from Washington's thinking class to the backwater working class.

So how'd the knowledgeable ones do on Election Day? The know-it-alls proved to be know-nothings. Out of 11 forecasters, only one had it right by picking Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. Seven incorrectly called Sen. George (Macaca) Allen in Virginia to win. Two of the seers--one a Republican pollster, the other a Republican consultant--acted on blind faith by fantasizing that their party would keep control of both the Senate and House.

For a bit of fun, the Post asked the 11 for a "hot hunch." Going cold were those who said future winners included Rick Santorum and Conrad Burns in the Senate and Bob Ehrlich and Kinky Friedman in governor's races. All lost.

How did the 10th graders do? Better than any Republican picker, for sure, and no worse than most of the others.

Now that I've taken perverse pleasure in watching all these sages knocked off their high thoroughbred horses, you might be asking if I made any predictions. I did. Get out your pencil and keep score.

Prediction One: No successful Senate candidate will give a victory speech pledging more money for the homeless and less for the Pentagon.

Prediction Two: No winner will say that all the negative ads run by the other side were totally true.

Prediction Three: No winners will apologize to losers for spreading lies, smears and exaggerations about them.

Prediction Four: No successful or unsuccessful candidates in either House or Senate races will say that they are joining the Reserves to take the place of soldiers now on their third tour in Iraq.

Prediction Five: No winner or loser will praise the media for their accurate reporting.

Prediction Six: No winners or losers will say that they are sick of voters who criticize politicians, and cite the storied quote of Rep. Barney Frank that "the voters are no bargain either."

Prediction Seven: No winning senator or governor will promise never to visit Iowa or New Hampshire in the next two years.

Prediction Eight: No winning senator will say that it's a national shame that Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the only Socialist in the Senate and that there should be a dozen more Socialists like him.

Prediction Nine: No winners or losers will pledge to donate their own money to build the 700-mile wall on the Mexican border that was approved by Congress but not funded.

Prediction Ten: For their maiden speeches in the Senate, no new senator will introduce a bill requiring all members to take a 50 percent pay cut as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the poor and working poor.

That was 10 for 10 by my count. Anyone score differently?

[Colman McCarthy teaches peace studies at three area high schools and four universities in the Washington area.]
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Title Annotation:COLUMN - Washington Post invites election prognostications
Author:McCarthy, Colman
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 8, 2006
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