We evaluated the predictions of politicians, journalists, and pundits (collectively, “prognosticators”) over a16-month period surrounding the 2008 United States federal elections. We sought to test the accuracy of these predictions and understand what makes individuals unusually good or bad at prognostication. We evaluated a random sample of
Meet the Press, This Week,
Face the Nation
transcripts and printed columns from themost prominent American prognosticators. Ultimately, we determined that some prognosticators are signicant-ly better than others, and there are characteristics that signicantly impact a prognosticator’s predictive power. After nding which characteristics make an accurate prognosticator, we ranked prognosticators based onoutcomes. We found that a number of individuals in our sample, including Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, Ed Rendell, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Kathleen Parker were better than a coin ip (sometimes, substan-tially so.) A number of prognosticators were frequently inaccurate, including Cal Thomas, Lindsey Graham,and Carl Levin. Our paper explores the reasons for these differences and attempts to evaluate the purpose of prognosticators in the media in light of their varying degrees of accuracy.