It’s time to forget last year’s forecast that Rand Paul would lead the Republican field and look ahead at what’s to come in 2016.
JANUARY: In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama urges tighter requirements for assault weapons. In the Republican response, Speaker Paul Ryan ignores guns and instead says Congress will concentrate on timely appropriations bills. The Dallas Cowboys fire coach Jason Garrett. After a record barrage of negative ads, a new Des Moines Register poll shows candidates’ Iowa standing unchanged. In the final Republican debate, Donald Trump accuses Sen. Ted Cruz of weakness in fighting Islamic State.
FEBRUARY: Cruz captures Iowa caucuses, followed by Trump and Marco Rubio. Hillary Clinton tops Democrats. The Arizona Cardinals win the Super Bowl. In New Hampshire, Trump edges Chris Christie, followed by John Kasich, Cruz, Rubio and then Jeb Bush. Bernie Sanders edges Hillary Clinton. Trump and Clinton win South Carolina, while, Rubio and Clinton take Nevada. The Cowboys name Baylor’s Art Briles coach.
MARCH: On Super Tuesday, Trump, Cruz and Rubio divide delegates. Among Democrats, Clinton wins everywhere but Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado and Minnesota. Sanders claims progress. Trump outlasts Cruz and Rubio in Florida to take the delegate lead. Bush (who comes in fourth) and Christie (fifth) suspend their candidacies. Mitt Romney warns against a Trump nomination. Kasich upsets leaders, sweeping Ohio delegates. Clinton takes Michigan, Illinois and Ohio primaries.
APRIL: President Vladimir Putin suspends Russia’s air attacks in Syria after heavy plane losses. Sanders suspends campaign after 2-1 Wisconsin rout. Texas Rangers open their season with eight straight victories. Trump wins New York and Pennsylvania. Romney, Jeb Bush and former GOP Chairman Haley Barbour meet to mull “the political situation.”
MAY: Trump calls Romney, Bush and Barbour sore losers. Cruz and Rubio keep attacking each other but not Trump. Trump sweeps May primaries and nears majority. Cowboys draft TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin. Syrian President Bashar Assad resigns after Russia joins the U.S. in urging “new leadership.” Embattled GOP Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Mark Kirk of Illinois say they won’t endorse Trump, if nominated. Clinton clinches Democratic nomination.
JUNE: The primaries end with Trump 50 delegates short of a majority. Cruz, Rubio and Ohio’s “favorite son” Kasich vow to fight on. Oklahoma City wins the NBA crown, and the Washington Capitals capture NHL’s Stanley Cup. Clinton taps Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as a running mate. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia announces his retirement, but says he'll stay one year so Obama can’t nominate successor.
JULY: The House passes 12 appropriations bill; the Senate, two. Ryan, who is named chairman of GOP convention, joins Barbour, Bush, Romney, Cruz, Rubio and Kasich to discuss an anti-Trump coalition. The effort collapses when Cruz backs Trump in return for a vice presidential nomination. Russia and U.S. deadlock on who should lead the new Syrian government.
AUGUST: The anti-Trump coalition picks Romney and Bush to form rival ticket. The Libertarian Party provides ballot access in most states. Trump denounces them as “a loser” and “a failure.” Six GOP senators running for re-election buck Trump, back Romney-Bush instead. Zach Greinke wins his 20th game, and Arizona leads NL West by 17 games. China beats U.S. in gold medals at Rio Olympics; Trump blames political correctness. Boykin is named Cowboys quarterback. The Justice Department says two State Department officials violated secrecy in email flap, but absolves Clinton. House Republicans urge special investigating committee.
SEPTEMBER: Polls show Clinton leading with 40 percent, Romney and Trump each with 30. U.S. and Russia agree the best leader for Syria is Maher Assad, the former president’s brother. House Benghazi Committee, calling timing coincidental, issues report blasting Clinton’s terrorism responses and emails. In the first debate, Trump attacks Romney, Romney attacks Trump, Clinton ignores both. Polls show Trump the winner, but Clinton stays ahead. Failing to pass nine of 12 appropriations bills, Congress votes temporary funding through February and adjourns.
OCTOBER: Ryan announces neutrality in presidential race. In final debate, Clinton, 68, calls Romney, 69, and Trump, 70, “voices of the past,” saying she represents America’s future. The Red Sox beat Rangers to win American League crown; in National League, the Cubs edge Arizona. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton resigns and is succeeded by Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
NOVEMBER: Cubs capture their first World Series since 1908! Clinton wins presidency, beating Bill’s numbers with 45 percent to Trump’s 36 and Romney’s 19. She carries Ohio, Florida and heavily Hispanic Western states, gaining 403 electoral votes. Trump has 129. Romney carries Utah. Trump claims disrespect. Democrats defeat all six Senate Republicans backing Romney, gaining 52-48 majority. GOP loses 26 House seats, retaining slim 221-214 majority.
DECEMBER: In unity bid, President-elect Clinton offers Trump a job as trade representative and for Romney, the ambassadorship to Russia. Both refuse. Republican Chairman Reince Priebus forms a committee to examine GOP future. Outgoing VP Joe Biden is named secretary of state. Boykin-led Cowboys win the NFL wildcard spot. U.S. and Russia push for a Syria unity conference. Clinton picks outgoing Obama for Scalia’s Supreme Court seat. Ryan resumes Ways and Means Committee chair, and the House GOP deadlocks on a new speaker.
Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.