Rothenberg’s End of the Year Awards

by Stuart Rothenberg December 9, 2015 · 11:11 AM EST

It has been almost 20 years since I started writing a best/worst end of the year column. Since I’m committed to doing them until I finally get one right, here goes this year’s attempt.

Weirdest Political Development of 2015

The nominees:

  • Bernard Sanders’ candidacy.
  • John A. Boehner quits.
  • Ben Carson’s candidacy.
  • A Democrat is elected governor of Louisiana.
  • Donald Trump’s candidacy.

My winner: You probably think I’m going to have some well-thought out reason not to pick Trump, don’t you? Well, you are wrong. It’s Trump. It doesn’t get any weirder than that.

Most Interesting Senate Race of 2016.

The nominees:

  • Wisconsin: Ron Johnson v. Russ Feingold.
  • Pennsylvania: Patrick J. Toomey v. Joe Sestak/Katie McGinty.
  • New Hampshire: Kelly Ayotte v. Maggie Hassan.
  • Florida: Ron DeSantis/David Jolly/Carlos Lopez-Cantera v. Patrick Murphy/Alan Grayson.
  • Illinois: Mark S. Kirk v. Tammy Duckworth/Andrea Zopp.

My winner: All interesting races, but my choice is Florida. Any race involving Alan Grayson inevitably must fall somewhere on the entertaining-to-bizarre continuum.

Worst Political Hair Issues of the Cycle.

The nominees:

  • Donald Trump: That’s not real hair, is it?
  • Stuart Rothenberg: You’re bald, Stu, deal with it.
  • Marco Rubio: Early signs of a terribly bad comb-over.
  • Carly Fiorina: And today’s color and style are …
  • All of the above.

My winner: Normally, I win this category with ease, but not when The Donald is also in the competition. Trump.

They Are (Still) in Congress?

The nominees:

  • Mark Walker (R-N.C.).
  • Some guy named Nugent from Florida who is retiring.
  • Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.).
  • Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
  • Filemon Vela (D-Texas).

My winner: Initially, I was going to pick Pelosi, because although she remains the top House Democrat she has disappeared from the media almost entirely. Then I was going to pick Filemon Vela, except that I don’t really believe that there is a congressperson named Filemon Vela. So, that means I’m going with Dan Newhouse, even though when I found out that someone named Dan Newhouse is in Congress, I said, “Get out, no way.” Anyway, I’m picking that guy.

Most Important New Metric for Journalists

The nominees:

  • Clicks (Page Views).
  • Tweets (Twitter).
  • Likes (Facebook).
  • Dollars.
  • Unique Visitors.

My winner: None. There are no winners. We’re all losers. We’re doomed.

Most Delusional Presidential Candidate.

The nominees:

  • Jim Gilmore.
  • Lincoln Chafee.
  • George Pataki.
  • Jim Webb.
  • Lawrence Lessig.

My winner: OK, now bear with me for a moment. Of course, all of these hopefuls were delusional in that they never had a chance. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make distinctions among them. Delusion is a relative concept, after all, and there is a difference between being merely pathetic and delusional. Anyway, I’m going with Chafee, who was elected to the Senate as a Republican, elected governor as an independent and ran in the Democratic race for president. That, and Chafee’s weird style, makes him my pick over the others.

Worst Poll.

The nominees:

  • Any poll not done by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, FOX, Washington Post/ABC News, CBS News/New York Times or CNN.
  • Twitter, which as everyone knows now replaces survey research.
  • Those garbage Internet and opt-in surveys that don’t deserve to be trusted or reported by any media outlet no matter how inept, incompetent and partisan.

My winner: Twitter.

Best (i.e., Worst) Donald Trump Quote.

The nominees:

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
“Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
“There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”
“I like people who weren’t captured.”
“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

My winner: Sorry, I am speechless.

Most Frightening Thought for 2016.

The nominees:

  • President Ben Carson.
  • President Bernard Sanders.
  • President Donald Trump.
  • President Hillary Clinton.
  • President Martin O’Malley.
  • President Ted Cruz.

My winner: You don’t serious expect me to answer this, do you? Discuss among yourselves.

Way, Way Over-Exposed in 2015.

The nominees:

  • Presidential debates.
  • Donald Trump.
  • Media stories about Donald Trump.
  • National polls.

Media stories about Donald Trump and national polls.

My winner: The last one, obviously.