2012 Political Predictions From Michael Tomasky, Paul Begala, More Beast Contributors

Michael Tomasky, Paul Begala and more Daily Beast political writers make 2012 predictions.

From left: Cliff Owen / AP Photo; William Thomas Cain / Getty Images

Michael Tomasky

1. Mitt Romney will win the GOP nomination. He’ll have to fight for it for a little while. But he’ll probably become the inevitable-eventually nominee from the time of Florida.

2. The economy will get better. How much better? Sorta to mostly better. Not all better. But by the summer, let’s say, the private sector will be adding roughly 225,000 jobs a month. By the fall, the unemployment rate will be close to 8 percent.

3. Bashar al-Assad will fall. The Free Syrian Army will march triumphantly into Damascus in March. More incredibly still, everything will go swimmingly! Syria will become a more-or-less functioning democracy within the year. Hizbullah members will start cashing in their 401K’s.

4. Fidel Castro won’t die!

5. The Supreme Court will uphold the Affordable Care Act on a 5-4 vote, but here’s the twist: Kennedy will vote against it, and Scalia will vote for it! Scalia’s vote to uphold, consistent with his previous commerce-clause thinking, will mute a lot of the howling, and health care won’t be much of a campaign issue.

6. In a surprise, Romney will select New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez as his running mate. She will help the ticket get 35 percent of the Latino vote nationally, but Barack Obama will still carry New Mexico by six points.

7. Improbably, Theo Epstein helps lead the Chicago Cubs to the World Series in his first year as president of operations, but the team gets swept 4-0.

8. The Mayan calendar is wrong.

9. Obama wins reelection fairly easily; Democrats hold the Senate, Republicans hold the House, but the margins of majority narrow in both chambers.

10. Republican recriminations prove particularly fierce. Washington pundits write hopefully of the rise of a newly revived moderate wing. Evidence repeatedly suggests otherwise. Pundits…continue to write hopefully of the rise of a newly revived moderate wing.

Paul Begala

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1. Herman Cain will get a contract with Fox News Channel. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will not.

2. A third-party candidate will get more than 7 percent of the popular vote for president.

3. John Boehner will be toppled from his post as speaker before the 2012 elections.

4. Democrats will re-take the House, hold the Senate and Obama will be reelected; a stunning rebuke of the Tea Party.

5. George W. Bush will not give a prime-time speech at the GOP convention. Dick Cheney will.

6. At the GOP convention a speaker will use some Spanish phrases in an appeal to Hispanic voters. He or she will be booed.

7. At the Democratic convention a speaker will use some Spanish phrases also. No one will notice.

8. The Texas Longhorn football team will finish in the top five nationally. (Then again, I make that prediction every year.)

Michelle Goldberg

1. Ron Paul will win the Iowa caucuses, causing much consternation and embarrassment in the GOP, and perhaps sparking a useful conversation about the state’s absurdly outsized role in our democracy.

2. Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination.

3. Obama will win the election. The GOP will interpret this as a lesson about the perils of moderation and lurch even further rightward.

4. Elizabeth Warren will become the new senator from Massachusetts.

5. The Syrian regime will fall. Some conservatives will decide that Bashar al-Assad wasn’t so bad after all, and will blast Obama for his departure.

6. They’ll blast Obama for “losing Iraq” too.

7. Apocalyptic weather will fail to dent the national consensus in favor of ignoring the perils of climate change.

8. Herman Cain will get what he always wanted, a contract with Fox.

9. HBO’s Girls will replace Sex and the City as our single-lady cultural touchstone.

10. At least one of these predictions will end up embarrassing me.

John Avlon

1. Anyone who tells you they know who’s going to win the presidential race isn’t telling the truth. This is going to be close—especially if Mitt Romney is the nominee and scores someone like Marco Rubio or Chris Christie as his VP. President Obama’s basic job approval and economic numbers make him a historically vulnerable incumbent, with his primary asset being his personal likability. Likable people get fired if they can’t do their job. The one thing I’ll say for certain is that if President Obama is reelected, it will be by a much smaller electoral margin than in 2008—and possibly razor-thin.

2. Here’s a safer bet—the 112th Congress will solidify its reputation as the worst in recent memory. The dysfunction we’ve seen from this divided Congress in 2011 will look like a honeymoon compared with the hellacious hyper-partisanship we’ll see in a presidential election year that will take on the attributes of an ideological Armageddon.

The X-factor will be whether Republicans in Congress continue to get the brunt of the blame, and if so, how that will affect their otherwise good chances of taking control of the Senate and the White House. If the GOP are the least popular players in D.C., especially among independent voters, it’s tough to see how they’ll be rewarded with unified control of Washington.

3. I think you’ll see the words “Americans Elect” in the national conversation a lot in 2012, for good or ill. This effort to put an online, citizen-nominated, bipartisan ticket on the ballot in all 50 states could have a game-changing effect on the ultimate presidential election outcomes. Who will be nominated is still TBD, but a credible ticket could change the electoral equation. Likewise, the Tea Party could try and latch onto the process in their determination to put an alternative to Mitt Romney on the ballot, if he wins the nomination. Whether the ticket takes more from the GOP or Obama lines remains to be seen—but somewhere between John Anderson’s 7 percent and Ross Perot’s 19 percent or even higher—this third ticket could benefit from widespread frustration with politics as usual, and have a significant impact on the next election for president of the United States.

4. On a non-political but geo-strategic level, I think we might see cyber-espionage and even cyber-terror become a front-burner issue that Americans finally are forced to confront.