Nathan L. Gonzales: Guaranteed 2020 Predictions? How’d Those Turn Out?

Nathan L. Gonzales: Guaranteed 2020 Predictions? How’d Those Turn out?

This is a guest blog post authored by Nathan L. Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales and CNN political analyst.

With most of the 2020 elections in the books, it’s prime time to judge and grade political prognosticators for their projections. So I went back and looked at three guaranteed predictions I made in September 2019 - more than a year before the election and before most people could locate Wuhan, China on a map.


Prediction #1: There’s going to be record turnout in 2020

That’s exactly what happened. In the wake of record-breaking turnout in the midterm elections and with President Donald Trump driving turnout among Republicans and Democrats, I projected record turnout nearly two full years before the 2020 elections and well before the pandemic. 

While votes are still being tallied, it looks like turnout will be about 66 percent (which I mentioned in the Roll Call piece) with more than 158 million people casting ballots, according to the hard work by my friend David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report.

Prediction #2: Democrats will be united

During the crowded and divisive part of the Democratic presidential primary, this prediction might have looked to be in jeopardy. But I wasn’t particularly nervous. Republicans consistently underestimated President Trump’s ability to unify and energize the Democratic Party. And that’s what happened. 

In 2016, just 89 percent of Democrats voted for Hillary Clinton. But after Trump won, the party started approaching elections with a new seriousness, and 95 percent of Democrats voted for Democratic congressional candidates in the midterms. And this year, 94 percent of self-identified Democrats voted for Biden, according to the exit polls.

Prediction #3: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be the new star of the Republican Party

I get only partial credit on this one because I went on to predict that AOC would be featured in more GOP ads than Speaker Nancy Pelosi this cycle. According to data from Kantar/CMAG, Republicans spent $50,000,000 on 121 unique television ads that aired 80,000 times that featured Pelosi and AOC. And AOC was running virtually even with Pelosi in GOP ad mentions into August. 

But then, as the general election heated up, Pelosi’s mentions spiked and she outpaced the congresswoman from New York. So my projection wasn’t quite right this cycle, but don’t be surprised when Republicans focus more on AOC, particularly when Pelosi is no longer Speaker of the House. 


Nathan GonzalesNathan Gonzales is the editor and publisher of Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, which provides nonpartisan analysis of campaigns for Senate, House, governor and president. He was an editor, analyst, and writer for The Rothenberg Political Report for more than 13 years before taking over the company in 2015 and offers audiences some of the most detailed electoral forecasting in the business. He is a CNN political analyst and can regularly be seen on top media outlets discussing the latest in politics. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today have all sought him out for his expertise. In presentations. Gonzales is full of enthusiasm and thought-provoking insights about politics. He analyzes the current political environment, shares what you need to know about the races you didn’t even know about, and performs an election “autopsy” on the latest races to project what the results mean for you.


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