Scott Adams, cartoonist, entrepreneur and author behind the Dilbert cartoon and a host of books, likes to make predictions on his blog and Periscope. Scott often brags that he predicted the Trump presidency back in 2015 when few people took the billionaire TV-personality’s candidacy seriously. A 2018 Forbes article on Scott even linked the success of his latest book to the success of that one prediction. But did Scott Adams predict that Donald Trump would be president?
While trying to find the blog post in which this prediction first appeared, I ran across an April 20, 2011 post in which Scott Adams dismissed rumors that Donald Trump was considering a run for president. He called the whole thing a big, fat practical joke that Trump was playing on the media. He even tagged the post “#General Nonsense”. Fast forward to August 5, 2015: Scott predicted Hillary would win (with 95% certainty, sans new scandals), but that Trump was the only other real contender. Fast forward a few days to August 13, 2015: The Trump learning curve is strong with Scott as he now predicts Trump will be POTUS.
So did Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams predict Trump’s presidency? Eh. Kind of not really. First he said Trump was not going to run. Then he said Clinton would win. Then he said Trump would win. But he doesn’t bring up the first two predictions anymore, just the one that panned out.
Of course, it’s possible Scott has been right this whole time (well, most of the time). Maybe this all started out as a practical joke and marketing stunt for Trump’s TV show. Then some Smoking Man types started telling him they’d back him, and he realized he actually had a shot. Maybe his presidency is just a big joke The Donald is letting play out. Why not? He gets his name in the history books, even more money and influence, and the sky’s the limit for ex-presidents. It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets his own Fox News opinion show or even starts his own network after this.
Just for shits and giggles, I thought it’d be fun to see what the Trump-will-win prediction landscape looked like in August 2015, as a point of comparison. Here’s what I found.
On 21 August 2015, Rolling Stone published the article “Donald Trump Just Stopped Being Funny” where writer Matt Taibi pointed with abject dismay to Hillary Clinton’s spiraling poll numbers.
On 11 August 2015, Jeffrey Kluger wrote a hit piece that concluded with “Trump the phenomenon will surely become Trump the afterthought.”
On 19 August 2015, Jennifer Ageists reported the latest CNN/ORC poll showed Trump winning the Republican nomination. She noted Trump had gone from 16 points behind Clinton in July to just 6 points behind her in August. The article pointed out Clinton was still in the lead while lamenting, “positive impressions of Clinton continue to fade.”
On 10 August 2015, Gwenda Blair wrote that Trump was in the lead for the Republican nomination but wouldn’t win if he continued his descent from “strong man” to “bully” as evidenced by his vitriolic reaction to Megyn Kelly asking a question he didn’t like during a political debate.
On 30 July 2015, Kelly Cohen, a Washington Examiner reporter at the time, published an article on FoxNews.com titled “Poll: Donald Trump surges, but would lose general election.” But the article just talks about Trump’s lead amongst Republican voters with no mention of his numbers with the rest of the population. The article was edited on 20 December 2015. Maybe that bit was deleted? Another article on Trump’s numbers, published 4 Aug 2015 by Dana Blanton, was also edited on 20 Dec 2015. In fact, I couldn’t find any Fox articles on Trump in the date range I was interested in (July 2015 – August 2015) that hadn’t been edited months or sometimes years later–which would explain why Google didn’t produce a single FoxNews article for the date range I used for the rest of the publications on this list (1 Aug 2015 – 30 Aug 2015).
In light of the above, I have to give it to Scott Adams. While his prediction that Trump wouldn’t run is a bit embarrassing as is his prediction that Clinton would win, he definitely settled on Trump as the winner well before the vast majority of more established political pundits.