It’s remarkable how much can change in 12 months. A year ago, in my second annual predictions column, the first topic was Michelle Rhee. Remember her? She used to be a somebody.
Also, and this is truly extraordinary, I blew one prediction because Pepco’s performance during 2011 was better than expected. A low bar, admittedly, but what a switch.
My forecasting record was approximately as wretched as in the previous year, with at best four good calls out of eight. Unashamed (or shameless), I continue the multiple-choice quiz tradition “borrowed” from the late New York Times columnist William Safire. My choices for 2012 are at the end.
1. In the end, the Occupy D.C. protesters will:
a) Be evicted from both McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza by the U.S. Park Service and District government, who yield to pressure from House Republicans and local business leaders.
b) Be ousted from McPherson Square, whose demonstrators have caused the most ruckus, but remain in Freedom Plaza.
c) Remain in both sites as the McPherson group grows more collaborative, and the White House and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) decide against a confrontation that would alienate the Democratic base.
d) Declare independence and create a nuclear-free, carbon-neutral, vegan-only mini-state. Like-minded neighborhoods in Takoma Park and Arlington County petition to be annexed.
2. Prominent District politicians who will be indicted in 2012 on charges alleging various campaign and financial wrongs include:
a) Mayor Gray, Council Chairman Kwame Brown and council member Harry Thomas Jr., as U.S. Attorney Ron Machen goes for the full trifecta.
b) Brown and Thomas, but not Gray, as Machen concludes proof is lacking that the mayor knew what his own campaign was doing with Sulaimon Brown.
c) Gray and Thomas, but not Brown.
d) Only Thomas.
e) None of the above, as Machen decides all the allegations are just hot air.
3. In the November presidential and U.S. Senate races, battleground state Virginia will:
a) Go blue, with President Obama winning the state’s electoral votes and Democrat Tim Kaine elected to the Senate. Dems benefit from big turnout among minorities and youths.
b) Go red, with wins by the Republican presidential nominee and Republican George Allen. Dems can’t overcome the slow economy and backlash against the health-care law.
c) Go purple in ticket-splitting drama, with the Republican presidential candidate narrowly winning the state’s electoral votes but Kaine elected by a whisker.
d) Secede from the union in tea party uprising led by Ken Cuccinelli and Jamie Radtke.
4. The region’s various new snow preparedness plans, including the federal government’s revised closing guidelines, will:
a) Cause confusion and have no measurable impact.
b) Cause confusion but also help a bit.
c) Help a bit even though the feds are mocked mercilessly for shutting the government when no storm materializes.
d) Prove so ineffective that the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments seeks management advice from Pepco.
5. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will:
a) Raise the state’s gasoline tax to replenish bankrupt road funds.
b) Win approval of same-sex marriage in Maryland.
c) Win approval for wind-power turbines off the Ocean City coast.
d) Plan to step down early as governor to join Obama’s Cabinet in the president’s second term.
e) All of the above.
f) a and c.
g) b and d.
6. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will:
a) Be picked as the GOP vice presidential nominee.
b) Force teachers and other state employees to contribute more to their pensions.
c) Shift responsibility for road maintenance to local jurisdictions, despite strong opposition from Northern Virginia.
d) All of the above.
e) b and c.
7. The future of slot machines in Prince George’s County will be:
a) Slots fail in the legislature because of opposition from church groups and Anne Arundel County gambling interests that fear competition.
b) Slots pass in the legislature but fail in a state referendum.
c) Slots win approval in both the legislature and referendum and are slated to go into Rosecroft Raceway.
d) Slots are approved in both legislature and referendum but unexpectedly go into National Harbor instead of Rosecroft.
8. The hottest political controversy in Fairfax County will be:
a) Cost overruns on the Metrorail extension to Dulles.
b) Infighting on the new School Board between the old guard and newly elected grass-roots activists.
c) Whether to join Arlington County in suing the U.S Army for botching traffic projections at the Mark Center on Interstate 395.
d) How to muscle Falls Church into lowering the exorbitant rates it charges for selling water to Fairfax.
9. The most significant political development in Montgomery County will be:
a) Agreement on a bold plan to build a countywide, bus-based rapid transit network.
b) Revival of County Executive Ike Leggett’s proposed curfew on teenagers.
c) Shift of economic development responsibilities from executive branch to a more business-friendly entity.
d) Higher taxes to pay for overdue raises for teachers and other county employees.
10. Redskins owner Dan Snyder will:
a) Celebrate as a new, young quarterback acquired in the draft leads the team to playoffs with a 10-6 record.
b) Mourn as no good quarterback is available and the team struggles to 6-10.
c) Feel relief as changes under Coach Mike Shanahan finally bear fruit and the team improves to 8-8.
d) Sue 1.4 million fans for slander for what he calls “numerous slurs” against his management abilities. Fans admit slurs but cite truth as legal defense.
Happy New Year!
My picks: 1. c, 2. d, 3. a, 4. c, 5. f, 6. b, 7. d, 8. b, 9. a, 10. c.