Bill Galston, America’s Wrongest Columnist

All pundits are occasionally wrong. I was wrong about how well the GOP would do this year: I underestimated Democratic mobilization, even though pollsters had predicted it for weeks. But few pundits were as wrong with such thudding consistently as Bill Galston, the ex-Clintonite and current Brookings scholar who spent the year Eeyore-ing away at The New Republic. Every two-odd weeks, Galston would read a poll or two and predict doom for the president – reporting or strategy or reality be damned.


Here is a short guide. Even Dick Morris should probably turn away.

May 3, from “Why the President’s Campaign Shouldn’t Focus on Inequality.”

The populist attack on inequality may rally the base, but it would not improve Obama’s chances among other voters. That’s because a focus on inequality doesn’t personally resonate for most people.


The president won the election after pledging to raise taxe rates on higher incomes.

May 11, from “It’s Official, Obama’s Trying to Win the West—Not Ohio.”

The most recent Quinnipiac survey, conducted before the gay marriage announcement, showed the presidential race tied—Obama 45, Romney 44. (Adding Rob Portman to the Republican ticket moved the race to a dead heat, 45 to 45.) If the prospect of gay marriage antagonizes older conservatives more than it mobilizes younger liberals, Ohio could shift back into the Republican column.


The president won Ohio.

June 5, from “Six Ways the Wisconsin Recall is a Curtain-Raiser for November.”

Republican-oriented groups outside Scott Walker’s official campaign are pouring tens of millions of dollars into television advertisements. Tom Barrett’s forces, meanwhile, are countering with an emphasis on the ground-game: old-fashioned door-knocking that began with soliciting signatures on the recall petition and never stopped. If Walker prevails, the divide is sure to only widen, as right-leaning Super PACs will find it even easier to raise huge gobs of money for the presidential campaign.

The Super PACs spent heavy on the presidential race and were upset by better liberal organizing, led by labor unions.


June 18, from “Yes, Pennsylvania is Still a Swing State.”


It’s no accident that the Romney bus tour goes through Pennsylvania. Keystone State voters can expect to see a lot more of him this summer, and their final verdict could be a game-changer.

The bus tour turned out to be one of the candidate’s final jaunts through the state, until a last-minute two-stop November scramble, right before he lost it.

July 19, from “Are the Bain Attacks Working? Not According to the Latest Statistics.”

In my continuing search for evidence that the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital are significantly changing the presidential race, I reviewed three surveys released in the past 24 hours. Once again, there are few signs that it has—so far.


In exit polls, 21 percent of voters said that “caring about people” was their top candidate quality. The president won 81 percent of these voters.

August 30, from “New Evidence That 2008 Was a Major Aberration for Democrats.”

The surging Democratic tide of four years ago has ebbed, exposing a partisan shoreline that more closely resembles what prevailed in 2004.

In 2004, party ID was split between Democrats and Republicans. This year, it was a 6-point D advantage.


October 15, from “Why Wisconsin Could Be the Key to a Romney Victory.”

Not only have the post-debate surveys shown Obama’s margin down to 2 points, but also, the same survey that gave Obama a 52 percent approval rating in Virginia put him at 47 in Wisconsin. History suggests that if vice-presidential candidates matter anywhere, it’s in their home states. If I were Romney’s campaign manager, I would tell Ryan to spend most of the next three weeks—morning, noon, and night—visiting every city, town, and hamlet in Wisconsin.

Ryan and Romney scheduled several visits to Wisconsin in the final stretch, and Obama won Wisconsin by 7 points.

October 25, from “Will Undecided Voters Tip the Election Against Obama?”

How are undecided voters likely to split this year? While no one knows for sure, the two most recent presidential elections involving incumbents suggest that challenger has an advantage.

Voters who decided in the “last few days” or election day broke for the president, 50-44.