Political prognostication? It’s kid stuff.

Al Kamen
Columnist November 19, 2012

Nate Silver has, at least for backers of President Obama, become something of a hero for his prediction prowess based on his own super-secret statistical formula.

Silver, the Hollywood heartthrob and New York Times blogger, did in fact call Obama’s electoral win right on the money, at 332 electoral votes.

But so did Sophia McCrimmon, an eighth-grader at Chickahominy Middle School in Mechanicsville, Va., who entered her prediction on Sept. 14 — weeks before Obama’s famous first debate.

“I figured Obama was going to win every state he won in 2008 except for North Carolina and Indiana,” she explained in an ­e-mail after being told she was a winner of the In the Loop Presidential Election Contest.

This was a two-part contest. Winners would be the first 10 entrants to predict the electoral vote and the first 10 to guess the new (old) president’s popular-vote percentage.


A look at key factors in the 2012 presidential election.

In fact, all winners in the electoral-vote category guessed Obama would get 332 electoral votes. They are:

Matthew Weng, a staff attorney with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities in Trenton.

Mark Levine, a radio talk show host and TV pundit and former legislative counsel to outgoing Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

John McCormick, a front-desk clerk from Bethesda.

Stuart Davis, a retired teacher from Arlington.

Nathaniel M. Deutsch, a human resources consultant in Washington.

Jay Cherlow, a retired economist from Arlington.

Jeff Holtmeier, a retired Internal Revenue Service agent and now part-time tax return preparer in Fairfax County.

Chris Dunkak of Middletown, N.J.

David Bushnell, a consultant from Silver Spring, whose entry arrived three hours and 14 minutes before one submitted by Chris Doyle of Ponder, Tex.

A fair number of votes — absentees, provisionals and such — are still being tallied in several states, Obama appears to have moved a bit over 50.7 percent as the post-election numbers come in, according to David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, and it may be that he’ll reach the 50.8 percent mark, which Silver predicted.

So we’re going to hold off for the moment on announcing winners in the popular vote percentage category.

Green pastures?

Environmentalists have been popping champagne corks (and then, of course, recycling the bottles) after the elections. Now they’re hoping the successes they saw in knocking off foes and electing friends will help them prove that being environmentally friendly pays off at the polls — and adds heft to their second-term agenda.

The League of Conservation Voters is cheering the defeat of 11 of the 12 lawmakers it dubbed the “Dirty Dozen” for their poor records on pollution. The LCV ran a $10 million campaign against them and five climate-change deniers (the “Flat Earth Five”), four of whom also lost.

Despite those wins, says LCV Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld, the GOP-led House isn’t likely to be fertile ground for eco-friendly legislation. So the group is again looking to the administration.

Climate change tops the wish list for this term, including limiting carbon pollution, developing renewable energy sources and stopping the development of “dirty” fuels (hello, Keystone pipeline).

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering rules to cut carbon emissions from new power plants, and the LCV is hoping it also addresses existing plants. The LCV isn’t using the m-word — “mandate” — but is optimistic about progress in a new Obama term, Sittenfeld says, citing progress in the past four years and validation from voters.

But there’s likely to be a shift in the administration on such issues, since neither Energy Secretary Steven Chu nor EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is expected to stay much longer.

So maybe the enviros should consider stocking up on more champers, though it’s little too soon to put it on ice.

Holder Watch continues

Justice Department folks are saying that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is thinking that he would like to stay on for another year in his job, though naturally that would be up to the president. He and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano are in London talking cybercrime, terrorism and such with the Euros.

Is Liz Warren available?

Buzz at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is that Director Richard Cordray is thinking about leaving the agency when his recess appointment expires at the end of next year, rather than go through another contentious confirmation fight, our colleague Danielle Douglas reports.

A bureau spokesman said Cordray, considered a potential Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Ohio, has no plans to leave, and the White House isn’t commenting. But his chances of confirmation are pretty much nil — and he can’t be re-recessed.

The governorship will be up for grabs in 2014, leading to speculation that Cordray will make a move. He lost earlier bids for the Senate and House.

Loop Fans may recall that Senate Republicans blocked his nomination in 2011, insisting that the administration first agree to have a five-member commission oversee the new consumer watchdog. Democrats couldn’t muster the 60 votes required to break the hold.

The standoff left the bureau leaderless, so President Obama gave Cordray a recess appointment, an end run that outraged Senate Republicans.

Even so, Cordray and his team forged ahead with rules to govern the financial services industry and enforcement actions to keep companies in line.

Just as the bureau is settling into the role of regulator, it is facing a potential leadership vacuum. Not only is Cordray’s term up in the coming year, but his deputy director, Raj Date, is stepping down on Jan. 31.

Date, who helped build the agency from the ground up, would have been acting director in the event Cordray left at the end of the year. But now it’s uncertain who would step into the role if Cordray departs.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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