We're sure that somewhere out there, at some tavern or water cooler at the RNC, there's probably a pundit-in-the-making who predicted that the Republicans would add seats in the House, seize control of the Senate, fend off nearly all the Democrats in the governor's races and yet lose Maryland's 8th Congressional District. But that special someone wasn't a contestant in Outlook's 11th Crystal Ball contest. Perfection eluded our 12 competitors. Some scored well, but some of them might consider a course in remedial prognostication, paid for by the 2003 Leave No Pundit Behind Act.
But as someone once said -- or should have said -- perfection is no fun. Perfection is not only the enemy of doing well enough to win, perfection is boring. We prefer a bit of haze in our Crystal Ball, so that we can spend hours debating the rules and checking for the latest news about the unresolved governor's race in Alabama.
Enough. The time for anointment has come: Congratulations to Tucker Carlson of CNN's "Crossfire," who edged out commentator Armstrong Williams and NPR talk show host Tavis Smiley.
We realize that there may be disputes. So for the record, here's how Carlson won the authentic Crystal Ball (handsomely mounted) that is our prize.
Carlson was on the money in three categories. He correctly predicted the GOP gain in the House and return to power in the Senate, and he had Christopher Van Hollen beating Connie Morella in Maryland. He slipped a bit by declaring that the Republicans' 27 governships would shrink by three (which would have given the Democrats a slight edge overall in state capitals). But that wasn't far off: The GOP lost one for sure, at most two.
Williams accurately predicted the GOP's improved fortunes in Congress. (Note for careful readers: Williams's published predictions last Sunday did not reflect a change he made, before deadline, in his Senate forecast.) And like Carlson, he also bet on three GOP losses in the governor's races. But he picked Morella. Too bad.
Smiley called Van Hollen's victory and the Senate takeover, but predicted four gubernatorial losses and didn't foresee the GOP gains in the House. Good, but not good enough.
Enjoy your title while you can, Mr. Carlson. In 2004, you'll have to defend it.
Meanwhile, no recount. No chads. No Supreme Court briefs.
Perfect. -- Outlook's Crystal Ball Commission