California Office Pool 2021

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 12th 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 poor. I didn’t see the pandemic coming, or much of anything else. I got Oscar best picture right, was correct that AirBnb would go public, and foresaw that both the Democratic nominee and President Trump would be claiming to have won the election right now. But that’s about it. I didn’t see the Lakers or Dodgers championships coming. I considered—but discarded—the prospect of a Vice President Kamala Harris.

Below are the 2021 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. In December 2021, the president of the United States will be:
  • A. Joe Biden
  • B. Kamala Harris
  • C. Nancy Pelosi
  • D. Someone else
  1. In December 2021, California’s two U.S. Senators will be:
  • A. Feinstein and Alex Padilla
  • B. Feinstein and Karen Bass
  • C. Feinstein and Barbara Lee
  • D. Padilla and Bass
  • E. Padilla and Lee
  • F. Padilla and someone else
  • G. None of these
  1. The biggest California political story of 2021 will be:
  • A. The pandemic’s end.
  • B. The recall of Gov. Newsom
  • C. An attempted recall of Newsom that boomerangs, with the governor being returned to office.
  • D. Disney, furious at closures, starting open warfare with the state and Newsom.
  • E. Tom Steyer actually blinking on TV.
  • Two Senate appointments
  1. Which of the following people will actually be in the 2002 race for the California governor by Dec. 1, 2021? Select all who you think will be running.
  • A. Tom Steyer
  • B. Alicia Garza
  • C. Gavin Newsom
  • D. Kevin Faulconer
  • E. John Cox
  • F. Eleni Kounalakas
  1. True or false: A recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom will qualify for the ballot during 2021.
  2. Gov. Newsom will get the most attention for:
  • A. A public feud with his ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle and her boyfriend Donald Trump Jr.
  • B. Eating at a fancy restaurant
  • C. Pandemic management
  • D. Finally pushing through Scott Wiener’s housing policy
  • E. Tax reform
  • F. An unexpected feud with President Biden
  • G. Fighting an attempted recall.
  • H. Saying the wrong thing while visiting China
  1. How many politicians will apologize publicly for eating at the French Laundry in 2021?
  • A. 0
  • B. 1
  • C. 2 or more
  1. True or False: Apple will have the largest market cap of any company in California at the end of 2020.
  2. How many Grammy awards will be won by California singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers?
  • A. 0
  • B. 1
  • C. 2
  • D. 3 or more.
  1. The Academy Award for Best Picture will go to:
  • A. Kelly Reichardt’s Oregon pastoral, “First Cow”
  • B. Lee Daniels’ biopic, “The United States vs. Billie Holliday”
  • C. Regina King’s historical fiction, “One Night in Miami”
  • D. Chloe Zhao’s post-Great Recession road film, “Nomadland.”
  • E. Spike Lee’s return-to-Vietnam ensemble drama “Da 5 Bloods”
  • F. David Fincher’s ‘Citizen Kane’-inspired “Mank”
  • G. None of these.
  1. 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 Patti Poppe
  • E.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • F. Gov. Gavin Newsom
  • G. Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden
  1. At the end of 2020, the California High-Speed Rail Authority will
  • A. Shooting forward with an infusion of stimulus funds from “Amtrak Joe’ Biden.
  • B. Remain on its San Joaquin Valley-only path from Bakersfield to Merced, as directed by Gavin Newsom
  • C. Have reverted to its previous business plan, with a Bakersfield to San Jose leg
  • D. Be winding down as its duties are turned over to Caltrans
  1. Which of the following California teams will win championships in 2020?
  • A. The Rams win the Super Bowl
  • B. The L.A. Dodgers win another World Series
  • C. The L.A. Lakers repeat as NBA champions
  • D. The L.A. Clippers win the NBA championship.
  • E. LAFC wins the MLS Cup.
  • F. The San Jose Sharks win the Stanley Cup.
  1. True or false: The majority of California public schools will fully reopen in the fall of 2021.



.ANSWERS: 1. A. (Biden). 2. D (Padilla and Bass in Senate). 3. C (attempted recall). 4. B, C, D, and E. (Newsom, Garza, Cox, and Faulconer will be running) 5. True (recall will qualify). 6. G (fighting attempted recall). 7. C. (two or more—it’s just too good!) 8. True. 9. C. (Bridgers wins 2 of 4 Grammy noms) 10. A (“First Cow” wins best picture). 11. B, C, and G (Lynn, Gruden and Uber CEO are all out) 12. C (reverted to previous business plan) 13. D and E. Clippers and LAFC win championships. 14. False. Schools won’t fully reopen til 2022.

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