California Office Pool 2020

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

This is the 11th annual edition of the California Office Pool. It was inspired by the late, great New York Times columnist William Safire, who made a habit of writing an annual column he called Office Pool. In it, Safire offered, multiple-choice style, a series of possible news events that could take place in the new year. At the column’s end, he let you know which ones he thought would occur.
Safire’s focus was Washington; ours is California. My picks are at the end.

My record in last year’s pool was mixed. I was right about everything Trump—that he would remain in office, make multiple trips here, and be sued more than 10 times by the state. I predicted that Kamala Harris would lag in the presidential race, and that the economy would remain strong.

I framed the question about PG&E—as an either/or between bankruptcy and bailout—because of a deficit of cynicism on my part. In fact, the company both declared bankruptcy and got bailed out.

I also was right about best picture and the economy remaining strong. But I was wrong about Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, about the legislature’s #MeToo victims, about Alphabet passing Apple, and especially about high-speed rail. I didn’t foresee Newsom turning it into a Central Valley-only project. I thought the Rams would win the super Bowl, and for three quarters, it looked like they would.

Below are the 2020 questions. Be sure to make your predictions, and clip n’ save (or bookmark and save) so we can see how we did at the end of next year.

1. How many times will President Trump lie about California on Twitter in 2020?

  • A. 5 or less
  • B. 6-10
  • C. 11-20
  • D. 21 or more

2. In June 2020, the president of the United States will be:

  • A. Donald Trump.
  • B. Mike Pence
  • C. Nancy Pelosi
  • D. Someone else

3. The biggest California political story of 2020 will be:

  • A. Jerry Brown’s late entry into the presidential race.
  • B. Kamala Harris’ selection as the Democratic vice presidential nominee
  • C. A scandal rocks the Newsom administration.
  • D. Facebook’s central role in stirring a post-election controversy that has both major party candidates claiming victory in the presidential race.
  • E. Tom Steyer actually blinking on TV.

4. Which of the following Californians will actually be in the race for the California presidential primary? Select all who you think will be running.

  • A. Tom Steyer
  • B. Marianne Williamson
  • C. Jerry Brown
  • D. Someone other than the three named here.
  • E. No Californian still in the race.

5. True or false: The winner of California’s Democratic presidential primary will be clear by the morning after Election night.

6. The winner of the Democratic presidential primary in California will be:

  • A. Joe Biden
  • B. Elizabeth Warren
  • C. Bernie Sanders
  • D. Pete Buttigieg
  • E. Michael Bloomberg
  • F. Amy Klobuchar
  • G. Corey Booker
  • H: None of the above

7. Gov. Newsom will get the most attention for:

  • A. An engrossing feud with his ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle and her boyfriend Donald Trump Jr.
  • B. legislation establishing a structure for single-payer healthcare in CA.
  • C. legislation enabling the transformation of PG&E into a cooperative.
  • D. An unexpected budget crisis after a recession hits.
  • E. Reviving and pushing through Scott Wiener’s SB 50
  • F. Tax reform
  • G. A post-election fight spurred by Trump’s fraudulent charges of California voter fraud.

8. By December 2019, PG&E will:

  • A. Still be in bankruptcy
  • B. Have been bailed out again
  • C. Have been taken over by the state
  • D. Have been purchased by Berkshire Hathaway
  • E. Have been purchased by hedge funds
  • . Have ceased to exist

9. True or False: Airbnb will become a public company in 2020.

10. True or False: Apple will have the largest market cap of any company in California at the end of 2020.

11. How many Grammy awards will be won by singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, a teenager who still lives with her parents in their modest L.A. condo?

  • A. 0
  • B. 1
  • C. 2
  • D. 3 or more.

12. The Academy Award for Best Picture will go to:

  • A. Martin Scorcese’s Jimmy Hoffa epic “The Irishman”
  • B. Clint Eastwood’s anti-media diatribe “Richard Jewell”
  • C. Greta Gerwig’s classic update “Little Women”
  • D. Marielle Heller’s heartwarming “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
  • E. Quentin Tarantino’s violently revisionist “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • F. Noah Bambach’s L.A.-breaks-couples memoir  “Marriage Story”
  • G. Bong Jong-hoo’s upstairs-downstairs parable “Parasite”
  • H. Melina Matsoukas’s on-the-run road picture “Queen & Slim”
  • H. None of these.

13. Which of California’s top dogs will lose their posts in 2020?

  • A. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg
  • B. L.A. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn
  • C. Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi
  • D. PGE’s William Johnson
  • E.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • F. Sacramento Kings Coach Luke Walton
  • G. High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly

14. How many members of the California legislature and California Congressional delegations will lose or resign their jobs in 2019 because of allegations of sexual misconduct?

  • A. 0
  • B. 1
  • C. 2-3
  • D. 4 or more

15. At the end of 2020, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will

  • A. Remain on its San Joaquin Valley-only path from Bakersfield to Merced, as directed by Gavin Newsom
  • B. Have reverted to its previous business plan, with a Bakersfield to San Jose leg
  • C. Be winding down as its duties are turned over to Caltrans
  • D. Have many of its funds diverted to Amtrak and to regional rail in Southern California.

16. At the end of 2020, the Delta tunnel project will…

  • A. Have been killed.
  • B. still be stuck in a mess of debate and litigation.
  • C. be under construction

17. Which of the following California teams will win championships in 2020?

  • A. The San Francisco 49ers take the Super Bowl
  • B. The L.A. Dodgers finally bag that World Series
  • C. The L.A. Lakers win the NBA championship
  • D. The L.A. Clippers win the NBA championship.
  • E. LAFC wins the MLS Cup.
  • F. The San Jose Sharks win the Stanley Cup.

18. True or false: 2020 will bring economic recession to California.

19. How many new lawsuits will the state file against the federal government in 2019?

  • A. 0
  • B. 1-5
  • C. 6-10
  • D. 11 or more

20. By December 2020, who will be preparing to take the oath on inaugural day 2021?

  • A. Donald Trump
  • B. Elizabeth Warren
  • C. Joe Biden
  • D. Bernie Sanders
  • E. Some other Democrat.
  • F. Both Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee—as both claim victory after Trump disputes the election result and refuses to leave office.

.ANSWERS: 1. D (Trump tweets lies more than 21 times about California). 2. A. (Trump survives his diet and impeachment). 3. D (Facebook’s election impact the big story). 4. B (Only Williamson still running on March 3. 5. False (It takes so long to count the California winner isn’t known for weeks). 6. B (Warren wins CA primary). 7. A (Newsom feuds with ex and DJT Jr.). 8. A and B (PG&E still bankrupt and bailed out again). 9. True (Airbnb goes public). 10. True (Apple still #1). 11. C (Billie Eilish wins 2 Grammies). 12. G (Parasite is best picture). 13. All of the above will lose their posts. 14. B (1 legislature goes down to #MeToo). 15. D (high-speed rail funds diverted). 16. B (Delta tunnel still stuck). 17. A, D, and E (49ers, Clippers and LAFC win championships). 18. False (no recession in 2020. It waits for 2021). 19. D (more than 11 lawsuits, as Trump keeps on attacking). 20. F (America will have two people claiming to be president).

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