Every year at this time I try to look to the year ahead and picture what may happen – especially in the world of politics and world affairs. It is difficult to distinguish between what we want to happen and what we think will happen. I try to do my best to keep my own biases and desires out of these predictions each year. Here are 11 predictions for 2012:

1. Something – politically – cataclysmic is going to happen this year somewhere around the world before Election Day on  November 6, 2012. 

This will be a man-made event – an attack or God forbid, even an assassination or a revelation of a Big Scandal -- that will shock us all – and re-jigger the political world.

2. 2012 will be the wildest, most un-predictable election year since 1968. 2011 was the craziest year inside the GOP – ever – with five different front-runners who rose and then sank within months (Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain & Gingrich) – and all this before even one real vote was cast! 

If the lead-up to 2012 is this unpredictable and unhappy, how can the election itself not be even crazier?

3. It is a virtual lock that Ron Paul will finish either first or second in Tuesday night’s Iowa Caucuses. Why? Because his supporters are the most fervent and devoted – and they will turn out on Tuesday night for sure. 

Romney? He could finish anywhere from first to third – that is how fluid this race – and his support -- is.

4. Ron Paul will not run in the general election as a third party candidate. Why not? As my FoxNews.com "Campaign Confidential" colleague Pat Caddell, has said, “Ron Paul would cost the GOP any chance at the presidency and the blowback would destroy any chances that his son, up-and-coming GOP Senator Rand Paul, would have inside the Republican Party down the line.” 

Pat is right. Congressman Paul is 76; this is his last rodeo. But the Pauls and their libertarian cause will live to fight another day inside the Republican Party.

5. Rick Santorum will finish in the top three in Iowa – and for a while, will inherit much of the Christian Evangelical vote.

6. There will be a dynamic third candidate in the race against President Obama and the Republican nominee. 

With 70% of American voters saying they are “alienated” from both political parties, there is a gigantic space in this year’s race for a new, serious, exciting candidate – not a has-been and not a self-promoting Donald Trump-type style candidate. This person's name has not yet been mentioned amid all the speculation over a possible third candidate.

7. There will be another economic downturn in 2012 that will knock Obama’s re-election chances backwards. 

Unemployment numbers will go back up again – a statistical fact if things on the jobs front seem to be improving and more people try to re-join the workforce. 

The nation will gasp if the unemployment number does indeed go back up – and polls will show Obama’s re-election chances dimming all over again.

8. If Mitt Romney winds up as the GOP nominee, Team Obama will savage him in the 16 swing states with TV commercials beginning as soon as it appears Romney wraps up the nomination. 

The focus of the Obama attack ads will be to go after Romney’s self-proclaimed strength: his business career in the world of private equity and mergers and acquisitions. 

This will be the mirror image of what the George H.W. Bush campaign did to another former Massachusetts governor, Mike Dukakis, in 1988. 

In that case, Governor Dukakis was running on his supposed-Massachusetts Miracle and his so-called “competence” as an executive. But when the Bush campaign was done with him and his record in the Bay State, he had nothing left to campaign on. 

He was destroyed in November 1988. 

Team Obama will try to replicate this by running TV ads featuring laid-off workers who lost their jobs while Romney “enriched” himself. Romney and the GOP better be ready for this.

9. Obama will also hit Romney on two issues that have cropped up because of Mitt’s attempt to move to the right to get on the “right” side of Gingrich and Perry. First, he came out for the Paul Ryan Medicare Plan to get to the right of Gingrich and he took an extremely hard line on illegal immigration in opposition to Perry and then Gingrich.

Look for Obama to attack Romney among seniors on this Medicare plan – and in Hispanic areas on the illegal immigration issue.

10. If Obama wants to play the Class Warfare card, the GOP, if they select Mitt Romney, is nominating the one candidate who plays into that stereotype. With his “I’ll bet you ten thousand dollars” moment and pictures of him with cash coming out of his pockets (from his Bain days), Team Obama will have a field day.

11. The so-called Mainstream Media – always in the tank for Obama – will re-double their efforts to re-elect the president. Why? Because to have the first African-American president of the United States defeated in his bid for a second term would be to de-legitimize all that the left has believed in. So they will help Obama in his scorched-earth strategy – if that is the only way he can get re-elected.

Whether you agree or disagree with my predictions let's all hope for a great 2012 for the United States!

Former Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981-83. He currently co-hosts "Campaign Confidential" with Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell – every Monday at 2 p.m. on FoxNews.com Live.

Former New York Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier is a Fox News contributor. He appears along with pollstersand  fellow contributors Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell on "Political Insiders" which can be see Sunday afternoons on Fox News Channel and every Monday at 10:30 am ET on "FoxNews.com Live."