Sunday, December 31, 2017

Grading my 2017 Predictions

Well look at the time, err, I mean, date! This post is scheduled to appear in the last minute of 2017, which means it is time for me to dig down into the archives, find the first post I did this year, and then see what an utter fool I was back then. No need for you to dig, I already did it. The original post is here and here is what I got right and wrong:

1. Donald Trump will not be impeached in 2017, nor will there be any congressional proceedings or hearings exploring impeachment. (Just throwing that out there because several people I know seem to assume he will very quickly get himself impeached, even though we have our current Congress)

Right. I am calling this one correct even though there are congressional committees investigating the possibility of Russian interference in the 2016 election because those committees are not exploring any possibility of impeachment.

2. Trump's approval rating will be 35% or less at the end of 2017, according to the Gallup 3-day average approval poll.

Wrong. As of today he is at 40%. (Two weeks ago he was at 34%, so it was close!)

3. Some kind of repeal or partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act (aka the ACA or Obamacare) will pass Congress and will be signed into law by Trump, but it will not completely end the health care exchanges before the end of the year.

I am going to call this one right. Until the last month or so, I thought I would only get this one wrong, but thanks to the repeal of the individual mandate in the Republican Tax Bill, that counts as a partial repeal of the ACA, which is good enough to make me right.

4. There will be an effort to pass a privatization of social security or otherwise turn it into some kind of defined contribution system, but that effort will not pass in 2017,

Wrong. There was no such effort, at least not this year.

5. There will be some effort to make major changes to Medicare such as turning the government run insurance program into a private insurance system with "premium support", at least for people who do not currently have medicare, but that effort will not pass in 2017.


6. The NLRB will undo the union election procedures instituted in 2015, either because of one of the court challenges (unlikely) or because reversing the election rules will be a condition of the agency's funding (very likely).

Wrong. I did not account for the fact that the NLRB did not have a Republican majority until William Emanuel was confirmed on September 25. There just has not been time for the agency to go through the rule-making process to issue new election rules.

7. Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court will be filled by the end of 2017 by someone nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate.

Right. Even after they snuck in that tax bill in the last month, I still think this was the biggest victory of the Trump administration.

8. There will not be any other vacancies on the Supreme Court in 2017.


9. 2017 is an odd-numbered year, so I am going to predict that all of the current leaders of the five former soviet stans will still be in power at the end of 2017 (i.e. I am repeating prediction #12 from 2013 and prediction #4 from 2015, and the opposite of prediction #8 from 2014 and prediction #16 from 2016.


10. The U.S. will have new war somewhere in the world in 2017 (to be a "new war" it has to be more than what we are currently doing. That is, more than drone attacks in places that the U.S. is already droning, like Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, or Libya, more than bombings in Syria and Iraq where we are already bombing, and more than the (relatively) small number of special forces and advisers in Iraq. Also any kind of military intervention in Afghanistan will not count as a new war as that would just be an extension of the current war there)

Extremely glad to be wrong.

11. Franรงois Fillon will become president of France in 2017.

Wrong, Totally did not anticipate Macronmentum (or rather that LePen will take out Fillon in the first round, leaving Macron as the non-fascist alternative).

12. The Iranian presidential elections will not result in protests like the 2013 election did.


13. Although there will be a lot of bad-mouthing of the deal  by the Trump administration, the Iran and the P5+1 will still be abiding by the terms of the Iran nuclear deal reached in 2015 at the end of the year.

Right. Trump refused to certify Iran's compliance to Congress, but Congress didn't do anything to cancel the agreement. The U.S. is still waiving sanctions per the agreement.

14. There will be at least one major (more than five people killed or at least ten people injured) attack by a neo-Nazi/white supremacist group in 2017.

Unfortunately I am right because of Charlottesville.

15. While some of Donald Trump's cabinet picks might have a hard time during their confirmation hearing, none will be rejected by the senate. (This does not rule out a candidate withdrawing)


16. President Trump will continue to lash out at people on twitter throughout the year, no matter how much trouble that causes both at home and abroad and no matter how much the prevailing wisdom is that his use of twitter is a very very bad idea.

Clearly right.

17. Ivanka Trump will be a fixture in the Trump administration throughout the year, no matter what those pesky anti-nepotism laws say.

She has had a slightly lower profile in the second half of the year, but this is right.

18. Trump will not significantly separate himself and his family from his business holdings and so there will be regular allegations of influence peddling and corruption surrounding the Trump administration.


19. The Trump maternity leave plan will not become law in 2017 and will barely be mentioned by anyone within the administration throughout the year.

Maternity leave plan, what maternity leave plan? Right.

20. The U.S, will still be a part of NAFTA at the end of 2017.

Right, but we are renegotiating, possibly as a prelude to a pullout in 2018.

21. There will not be any major (worth more than $1 billion) wall-building project on the border with Mexico.

Right. Trump's budgets keep proposing money for the border wall, but none of those budgets have been passed yet. Instead, Congress just kicks the can down the road with another temporary funding extension, which keeps everything at the pre-existing spending levels. As a result, no money has been allocated specifically for the wall, although some pilot studies have been done which have involves (relatively) small sums. For example, DHS has solicited bids for companies to propose a model for the border wall, but the prototype contract is worth between $400k-$500k, not even a million dollars. So I am confident that less than a billion dollars has been spent on the stupid wall.

22. There will be some kind of Muslim registration system in the U.S., although it probably will just be a registration system for people who emigrate or visit the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries.

Wrong. The Trump people floated the idea of reinstating NSEERS during his transition, but then Obama revoked the underlying regulations which made it a lot harder for the Trumpies to institute a Muslim registry, so Trump hasn't mentioned it since.

23. There will be no blanket legal ban of Muslims coming to the U.S.

Right. Travel ban 3.1 is currently partially blocked, plus it is not a blanket ban. Even if it were in effect, I would still get this one because that version of the ban just targets specific countries and is not "blanket."

24. Congress will pass and the President will sign some kind of national "religious freedom" law intended to allow anti-gay bigots to avoid doing business with gay people, but it will be immediately challenged in court and will not be in effect at the end of 2017.

Nope. I definitely over-estimated the Trump Administration's ability to get shit done. After wasting so much of the summer on their failed Obamacare repeal, all they had time to do in terms of major legislation was to ram through tax cuts for rich people.

25. The UK will invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the country will begin talks about the terms of its withdrawal from the EU. But there won't be any agreement about the terms of the withdrawal or even any substantive progress before the end of 2017.

Right on both counts.

26. The Scottish parliament will pass a resolution demanding a new independence referendum in 2017, but the referendum will not be held before the end of the year.

I realize now that this prediction is ambiguous. Was I predicting that the Scottish parliament would specify that the vote take place in 2017, or was I just saying the resolution calling for a new independence vote would pass in 2017? Actually, I know I meant the latter, and that's what happened. This one is right.


I got 18 right and 8 wrong, which is a 69.923% success rate. I am shocked that I did that well. When I first thought about digging up my predictions from the beginning of the year I expected to find an embarrassing list of miscalculations for the year. This is really much better than I expected and is not all that out of line with my success rate for other years. Check out the record:

2008: 20 right to 4 wrong (83.333%)
2009: 14.5 right to 7.5 wrong. (65.909%)
2010: (none because Kazakhstan)
2011: 15.5 right to 6.5 wrong (70.455%)
2012: 15.5 right to 6.5 wrong again (70.455% again)
2013: 15.5 right to 9.5 wrong (62.000%)
2014: 17 right to 9 wrong (65.385%)
2015: 11.5 right to 13.5 wrong (46.000%)
2016: 17.5 right to 9.5 wrong (64.815%)

And now I get to do it again. Stay tuned! In a minute or two, my 2018 predictions will appear.