Saturday, December 31, 2011

grading my 2011 predictions

one year ago, i posted 22 predictions for 2011. wanna see how naive and foolish i was back then? i do too. so here goes.

1. president obama's approval ratings will be roughly the same (within the margin of error) on december 31, 2011 as they were on december 31, 2010 (for the purposes of measuring success in this prediction, i will use the gallup daily presidential job approval poll and for the december 31st number i will use the 3 day average for december 28-30).

wrong. there is no december 28-30 number for 2010 or 2011 (probably because of the holiday). so instead i will use the last poll available that takes place entirely in december of each year. in the dec. 27-29, 2010 poll obama had a 47% approval. the dec. 27-29, 2011 poll has a 43% approval. it's a +/-3% poll, so i just missed. d'oh!

2. iran will not develop a nuclear weapon in 2011.

right. the "iran is only a few months away from having nukes!" hysteria is pretty constant. and yet, we never seem to cross those few months.

3. neither israel nor the u.s. will launch a military strike against iran in 2011.

right. another thing that people keep claiming will happen soon, but it never seems to actually happen.

4. the republican party will still have no clear front-runner candidate to run against obama by the end of 2011.

right. surprise! the republican candidates turned out to be exactly the assortment of clowns they looked like they would be at the end of last year. and republican poll respondents turned out to be just as unsure over which clown to pick as i thought they would be.

5. by the end of 2011, there will be no serious primary challenger to obama (and by serious, i mean getting more than 10% support nationally in polls of likely democratic primary voters).

right. forget about 10%. i don't think there's anyone who is being polled at all.

6. the affordable care act will not be repealed in 2011.

right. notwithstanding promises made in the republican surge campaign of 2010, repealing major legislation is hard to do.

7. the supreme court will agree to review the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the ACA.

right, and with 5.5 hours of argument too.

8. there will be no palestinian-israeli peace deal in 2011.

right. a shocker, i know.

9. hamas will still control the gaza strip at the end of 2011.

right. i realize the status quo can't continue forever. but predicting that nothing will happen with the israeli-palestinian conflict has got to be the low-hanging fruit of the annual prediction game.

10. israel will continue to expand settlements on the west bank in 2011 and will not agree to any more moratoriums during that year.

right. yep, more low-hanging fruit. it was pretty clear that the ten month loophole-ridden moratorium of 2009-2010 was a one-time thing.

11. osama bin laden and ayman zawahiri will still be "at large" on december 31, 2011. [aside: i make this prediction every year. why stop when i got a winner?]

half wrong/half right. that's why i should have stopped.i'm only getting this half right is because zawahiri is still at large.

12. the u.s. will comply with the timetable to withdraw its forces from iraq. that is, there will be no u.s. soldiers in iraq by the end of 2011 (except for the usual marine contingent that guards the embassy).

right. this one i actually think i have something to crow about. almost unanimously the bloggers behind the blogs i regularly read thought it would not happen. it did.

13. more u.s. soldiers will die in afghanistan in 2011 than did in 2010.

wrong. i'm happy to be wrong about this one. according to iCasualties, 499 u.s. soldiers died in afghanistan in 2010 and 417 died there in 2011. of course, any number is too many, and 417 is still more than an average of one per day. how can that possibly be worth it?

14. the u.s. and russia will negotiate a treaty concerning tactical nuclear weapons in 2011, but it will not be ratified by the u.s. senate by the end of the year.

wrong. the negotiations stalemated fairly early in the year and were never completed. it never got close enough to the senate for them to drag their feet on ratifying it.

15. at least one more u.s. state will legalize gay marriage in 2011 (i'm not guessing which one).

right. yay new york!

16. obama will have a budget show-down with the GOP in congress and the government will shut down.

i'm going to call this wrong. there were more show-downs than i ever would have thought, but no shut down.

17. by the end of december 2011, sarah palin will still be in national news on a regular basis despite having no reasonable chance of ever holding any elected office again.

right. (one quickly googled-up example from today) i think we're going to have to put up with the palin-obsession for the rest of her life.

18. wikileaks will release all 251,287 of the diplomatic cables it has by the end of 2011.

right, although it happened in a much less controlled way than i would have predicted--the guardian accidentally published the password that allowed access to all the files, so the unredacted files all leaked out before wikileaks was done redacting, at which time the organization decided to just bow to reality and officially release everything.

19. either wikileaks will still exist at the end of 2011, or some successor organization that does essentially the same thing will exist (the successor could be openleaks, or it could be something else like it).

i'm going to count this wrong, even though it is technically right. wikileaks still exists, but has, at least for now, ceased to do very much. openleaks still exists, but hasn't really done much. so while i got the letter of the prediction is right, the spirit of the prediction turned out to be wrong.

20. the unemployment rate will be better by the end of 2011 than it is at the end of 2010, but unemployment will still be over 8%.

right. according to this site, the unemployment rate at the end of 2010 was 9.4%. at the end of november 2011 (the last month for which there is data right now), it was 8.6%. (i know there are several different measures of unemployment. the site uses the bureau of labor standard's employment situation summary, which is comes from the data from the BLS's household survey and establishment survey).

21. southern sudan (or whatever they decide to call it) will either not be independent or will be claiming independence and at war with the khartoum-based government.

wrong. ROSS (at least that's what i decided to call it), is currently independent and not at war with khartoum, although there is arguably a proxy war over south kordufan in what is now southern sudan, along the sudanese-ROSS border. despite that and other sometimes violent differences between the two sudans, despite what others may call it the two countries are not officially at war and sudan does actually recognize ROSS. the recognition issue was really what i was getting at when i made my prediction.

i might also add that i changed my mind about this prediction just days into 2011. but i'm stuck with the predictions i make before the year changes. so i'm still counting this one as wrong.

22. the only trip i will take outside of the u.s. in 2011 will be to canada.

right! i'm trying to decide whether to risk predicting any foreign trips in 2012.

15.5 correct out of 22, or 70.455% right. that is a little better than i did in 2009 (65.909% right), but a lot worse than i did in 2008 (83.333%). (i never got around to doing predictions for 2010).

while my percentages are never that bad, many of the predictions i make are pretty safe. i'm not willing to commit them to the blog post unless i feel pretty sure of myself. on the other hand, at least one of those "safe" predictions (the prediction that bin laden would remain "at large") turned out to be definitively wrong. and, of course, i completely missed most of the stories that 2011 will go down in history for, things like the arab spring and the fukushima disaster. my predictions are mostly projections of current trends or factors that i could already see at the end of 2010. there was nothing in the news that would alert anyone to the earthquake that led to the tsunami and then meltdown at fukushima. and while the protests in tunisia had already begun by the end of 2010, i don't think anyone thought the phenomenon would spread as far as it has at that point.

in any event, i'll try to post my no doubt flawed predictions for 2012 soon. then again, that's what i promised to do for my 2010 predictions, but i never did. so take that prediction with a grain of salt.