The winner of the 2006 Outlook Crystal Ball Contest's Tournament of Champions is . . . drumroll please . . . Morton Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call. In a close competition, Kondracke out-prognosticated former Democratic National Committee chairman Paul Kirk and MSNBC's Chris Matthews (the only previous two-time Crystal Ball winner).
This year's winner was determined in three steps. First, Kirk was the only contestant who correctly forecast Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, as well as a majority of governorships -- making him an instant finalist. Meanwhile, Kondracke was nearly perfect in predicting the specific Democratic-Republican breakdowns: He nailed the governors (28 Democrats, 22 Republicans) and the House (230 to 205, at last count), and was just one seat off in the Senate, where he anticipated a 50-50 split. Matthews mirrored Kondracke's congressional picks but lost out with the governors, where he envisioned a 26-24 Democratic majority.
That left just Kirk and Kondracke, winner take ball.
The championship came down to four high-profile Senate races: Connecticut, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia. Kondracke went four for four, picking Joseph I. Lieberman, Claire McCaskill, Bob Corker and James Webb. Kirk, however, picked Harold E. Ford Jr. to outduel Corker in Tennessee -- which proved his undoing.