Countering (some of) Dan Liljenquist’s 2016 predictions

Countering (some of) Dan Liljenquist’s 2016 predictions

In his Deseret News column, former Utah state senator Dan Liljenquist laid out 20 predictions for 2016. Below I’ll go through each of his predictions and add some commentary of my own.

“(1) Donald Trump will win at least two of the first three primary states but will not run away with the Republican nomination for president.”

Disagree. Trump will not win any of the first three states because he has no ground game in those states. The closer we get to election day in those states, the further Trump falls in the polls. And without a ground game he has no chance to come out on top.

“(2) The Republican presidential nominee will not be determined until the national GOP convention, where Republican insiders will work to influence delegates to vote for a compromise candidate.”

I don’t think this will be true either. Either Rubio or Cruz will emerge as the clear nominee before convention.

“(3) Mitt Romney will be drafted to enter the GOP race in the weeks leading up to the GOP convention.”

Yes, the Deseret News will talk about this for as long as they possibly can, but there’s a higher chance of me voting for Orrin Hatch in 2018 than for Mitt Romney to enter the presidential race in 2016.

“(4) Hillary Clinton will crush Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley in Iowa and New Hampshire on her way to the Democratic nomination.”


“(5) Bill Clinton’s alleged infidelities will become a major story of the general election.”

It’ll be a story, but only a major story in the world of conservative talk radio.

“(6) President Barack Obama will act unilaterally on nationwide gun control, daring Congress and the courts to stop him.”

This could happen, but I think it would require a mass shooting along the lines of Sandy Hook for the president to take executive action on gun control.

“(7) The Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 decision, will repudiate Obama’s executive orders on gun control.”

If Obama acts, the Supreme Court probably wouldn’t be ruling on it in 2016.

“(8) Speaker Paul Ryan will face a serious intraparty challenger, and, if he survives the challenge, will be significantly weakened as speaker of the House.”

I don’t think he’ll receive a serious intraparty challenger in 2016.

“(9) A downturn in the stock market will rock public employee pension systems throughout the country, adding hundreds of billions in additional unfunded pension liabilities that will further strain state budgets and turbocharge pension reform efforts.”

It’s coming. Whether it’s in 2016 or later, it is coming.

“(10) Sen. Orrin Hatch’s public relations blitz will continue as he prepares to announce that he is just too important for Utah to lose and that he will indeed run for an unprecedented eighth term in 2018.”


“(11) Sen. Mike Lee will cruise to re-election without serious challengers and will further extend his influence in the U.S. Senate as chairman of the Republican Steering Committee.”


“(12) Doug Owens will give Congresswoman Mia Love all that she can handle in the race for the 4th Congressional District, but Love will hold on and win.”

The Love campaign won’t hold back this time on the attack ads and Doug Owens will not get as many votes as last time.

“(13) Gov. Gary Herbert, as chairman of the National Governors Association (NGA), will be successful in reorienting the NGA toward state-based, rather than federal, solutions to local problems.”


“(14) Speaker Greg Hughes will continue to be hugely popular in the Utah House of Representatives and will become a household name throughout the state, setting him up for a 2020 run for governor.”

He’ll be a household name among the weirdos who follow politics as closely as we do. The only times the average Joe will hear his name is when he does something dumb. I don’t think it will necessarily be a good parlay into a run for governor. Besides, Jason Chaffetz is going to run for governor and Hughes wouldn’t stand a chance against Chaffetz.

“(15) Senate President Wayne Niederhauser will continue to preside over and lead the most united Utah Senate in recent memory, cementing his legacy as a statesman of the highest order.”

My goodness, get a room.

“(16) The Utah Legislature will scrap Herbert’s budget and do its own thing, but public education will receive most of what Herbert has proposed.”

As usual.

“(17) Utah Senate President Pro Tempore Curt Bramble will continue to shake up the National Conference of State Legislators during his term as president, firing openly liberal staff and bringing conservatives back to the table.”

I know nothing about his plans for the NCSL. So, sure.

“(18) Herbert’s re-election race versus chairman Jonathan Johnson will be closer than people think.”

It will not be closer than people think. Herbert will win by 20+ points.

“(19) Utah courts will rule that the Utah Republican Party can kick candidates out of the party if candidates take the signature path to the primary ballot.”

This is true and will make for a chaotic election cycle.

“(20) The Utah Republican Party will not try to kick Lee and Herbert out of the party for pursuing the signature route to the primary ballot but will try to excommunicate individual legislative candidates who pursue the signature route.”

I think the party will “excommunicate” any signature-gathering candidates who don’t meet the convention threshold. Since Lee and Herbert will each get at least 40% in their respective races at convention, they will not be removed from the party. I think it’s possible that Jonathan Johnson doesn’t get 40% at convention and could have his party membership revoked if he goes the signature route. There could be other candidates in legislative races who have the same thing happen to them. Utah GOP Chair James Evans is not going to back down on this.

Bonus predictions

  • Ted Cruz will win Iowa and South Carolina, setting the stage for a legitimate shot at the nomination. The national GOP will do everything they can to prevent a Cruz nomination.
  • A watered-down version of Senator Madsen’s medicinal cannabis bill will pass the legislature and be signed into law.
  • Donald Trump will run third-party and take away enough votes from the GOP candidate to give the election to Hillary Clinton, which has been the Clinton machine’s plan all along.

About author

Michael Jolley
Michael Jolley 29 posts

Michael has been active in Utah politics since 2009 and admits he still has a lot to learn. He lives in Provo with his wife Jessica and their two small children. Follow Michael on Twitter: @UTJolley

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