VPAP's 2017 Pundit

Sometimes it pays to go with the heart.

Eric Mens, of Arlington, abandoned his usual strategy of trying to predict winning candidates in VPAP’s Pundit contest.

“I’ve entered the pundit contest before, and I tried to be realistic,” said the self-described Democrat. “So this time, I’m just gonna go for wishful thinking.”

Mens, 40, oversees government contracts as the Proposal Director at Enterprise Information Services in Vienna. Though he’s not a politico by trade, his victory will not come as a surprise to his former classmates at Virginia Tech.

“Back in college, I used to say I wanted to be a talking head when I grew up,” Mens said.

Out of 1,057 contestants, Mens was one of only 40 who forecasted a Democratic sweep of House races and statewide offices.

The first tiebreaker narrowed the field: 28 respondents guessed that Attorney General Mark Herring would receive the highest percentage of the down-ticket statewide races.

Mens nailed the second tiebreaker, which seemed tailor-made for him as a Prince William County native. What percentage of the vote would Ed Gillespie receive in the home precinct of his one-time rival, Prince William Supervisor Chair Corey Stewart?

Mens predicted 30.3% – off by just one half of a percentage point. 

“It always seemed like a very mixed area,” he said.

Mens was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Woodbridge. He enjoys doing anything outside – hiking, playing with his dogs, and even yard work. He sides with the Democratic Party now, but hasn’t always.

“I’ve always considered myself an independent until the last few years,” he said.

Mens shares a common thread with previous winners: he reads VaNews! He differs in one way from the past three Pundits, who were all graduates of UVA’s Sorensen Institute.

Perhaps Mens has his own secret weapon from his college days?

“CNN was on all day in my dorm.” 

Nov. 9, 2017

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