This was a terrible year for just about everyone and everything, and that includes my predictions for this year. That said, I did better this year than last, scoring 6 out of 14 correct predictions. Let's go through what I predicted for 2016, where I was right or wrong, and why.
Tomorrow, I will state my predictions for 2017. See you then!
- Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States --- DID NOT HAPPEN
This seemed like a slam dunk given the polls at the time, and the dynamics of electoral politics since 2006. So what happened?
The Clinton campaign blames the Comey letter to Congress for shifting undecided voters to Trump. Post-election polling shows about half of Clinton voters blame Russia, because Russia hacked the DNC and the Clinton campaign (which is supported by the intelligence community including the FBI), and also because they believe Russia somehow changed the vote tally (a hypothesis for which there is no supporting evidence).
I think what really happened is simpler and more prosaic and depressing. The DNC and the Bill Clinton people resorted back to their old ways and fucked up a perfectly winnable Presidential race, a la Al Gore in 2000.
In particular, they fucked up on messaging. Most of their television ads were about what a horrible person Donald Trump is, rather than why Hillary Clinton should be President. They adopted a slogan, "Love Trumps Hate," that once again made Donald Trump, not Hillary Clinton, the center of attention. Everyone involved in the campaign --- and I mean, everyone from the lowest level canvassing and phone banking volunteer to the candidate herself --- needs to go back and re-read George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant, which spells out in plain terms why this is an inexcusible fuck-up.
That's just one way in which the campaign fell apart. There's dozens of others, from not bothering to engage the Democratic apparatus in Madison, WI, to presuming Pennsylvania was safely in their column, to continually writing off the Bernie people at an organizational level.
The end result is a mess. Donald Trump is a thin-skinned, grossly incompetent President-Elect, whose actions post-election might have asuaged the investor class but have terrified and angered half the country at the same time that it has galvanized the white supremacist so-called "alt-right." He shows all the signs that his administration will be corrupt, brutally racist, and unrepentantly authoritarian and antidemocratic. There are even signs that he might be a Russian puppet.
Trump is a weak PEOTUS in a lot of ways, but one that should not go ignored is his level of support. His approval ratings are at an historic low for Presidents-Elect. He has negative coattails such that the GOP lost House and Senate seats. And, his popular vote margin is at about negative 2.9 million.
This gives the Democratic Party a narrow path to avoid extinction. It needs to win big in local and state races, and hold its ground in Congressional races, in 2018, if it wants a shot of winning the White House in 2020 or getting back control of Congress in 2022. Trump's unpopularity gives them a shot, and it's already produced results in the form of a flood of new volunteers and apparatchiks. What's needed to capitalize on this new blood is a return to the fifty state strategy espoused by Howard Dean in his tenure as DNC chairman.
- The Democrats will gain seats in the US House of Representatives, but nowhere near enough to take control in the next Congress. --- HAPPENED
This actually happened, and it's one of the most underreported political stories of 2016.
- The Democrats will score a net gain of at least four US Senate seats, enough to control the Senate in the next Congress. --- DID NOT HAPPEN
Long story short, Democrats blew a lot of easily winnable races by assuming that the Great Lakes states were in the bag.
- Kate Brown will be elected to finish her predecessor's term as Governor of Oregon. --- HAPPENED
Oregon Democrats did worse this election season than expected, but Kate Brown won in a shoo-in. Dennis Richardson's win as Secretary of State should sound alarm bells for 2018.
- Augustus Invictus will NOT be Florida's next US Senator. --- HAPPENED
In fact, Marco Rubio went back to run for his old seat, and won. That said, it might well have been that Augustus Invictus was simply before his time. The events of the next few years, and in particular, the success or failure of fellow authoritarian Richard Spencer in Montana, will tell us more.
- Tammy Duckworth will win the general election to represent Illinois in the US Senate. --- HAPPENED
And so Barack Obama's Senate seat repeats the pattern in which it has been since Alan Dixon lost the Democratic primary to Carol Mosley-Braun; that is, switching parties every six years.
- Black Lives Matter will dominate the Presidential race --- DID NOT HAPPEN
In fact, what dominated the Presidential race was two even bigger manifestations of America's deeply rooted racism: anti-Muslim and anti-Latinx sentiment espoused by Donald Trump. It's not going to get better without a lot of work.
- Gun sales will continue to reach new records; prices of both guns and ammo will increase. --- HAPPENED
Gun buyers assumed that Clinton would win and kept buying guns in anticipation of a Clinton administration AWB. New records were met each month. Now that Trump is going to be in power, I expect the gun market, which is usually driven by fear and anxiety, to level off, even as it gains new customers on the left.
- ISIS will execute a Paris-style attack on the United States. --- HAPPENED
This would be the Pulse Nightclub shooting of June 12th. This focused the gay rights movement briefly on the cause of gun prohibition. I suspect that's over now that there are bigger fish to fry.
- ISIS will lose half their territory between 1/1/2015 and 12/30/2016. --- DID NOT HAPPEN
ISIS has lost territory, but only by about a quarter, not a half, as measured in square miles.
- Oil prices will go back up to $70/barrel this summer --- DID NOT HAPPEN
In fact, OPEC kept the spigot open. Demand has increased thanks to the cheaper oil prices, and prices never got above $50.
- The Oregon Ducks will win the Alamo Bowl. --- DID NOT HAPPEN
What should have been an easy game turned into a stunning, horrifying collapse, presaging a dreadful 2016 season. Cue sad trombone. I remain a fan.
- The Carolina Panthers will beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl --- DID NOT HAPPEN
In fact, the Panthers played the Broncos, and lost. The look on Cam Newton's face when the clock expired says it all.
- The Chicago Cubs will return to the postseason. --- HAPPENED
A lot sucked about 2016, but it had great sports stories. The biggest is that Leicester City, a perennial underdog in British soccer, won the Premier League championship for 2015-2016. A very close second to that is the Chicago Cubs coming back from three games down, and eeking out a tough, harrowing win in game seven, to win the World Series and end a 108 year championship drought.
Tomorrow, I will state my predictions for 2017. See you then!