2016 will do go down in the history books as a game-changing year with the post-Cold War liberal world order shattered by the rise of populist and anti-establishment forces across the Western world.
What made this even more remarkable was that the vast majority of the Pundocracy were clearly stunned by the events that unfolded, whether it was the Brexit vote, the rise of Donald Trump to become the Republican candidate or his victory to become the 45th president of the United States. The media and political classes across the developed world have become a self-reverential echo chamber of the affluent, mixing only amongst their own elite circles and becoming ever further removed from the average voter.
One of the services of Forecasting Intelligence is to provide an alternative to the conventional wisdom of the chattering classes and hopefully provide accurate predictions of key political events and trends for the reader. As part of that process, I will on an annual basis, review my predictions made during the year and calculate my overall performance, using the Brier score.
If you wish to read my forecasts in further detail and my probabilistic scoring, please click here. So, how did I do?
The first two predictions related to the US presidential election and I scored trump cards on both of them (pardon the expression), successfully predicting both the election of Trump as Republican candidate as well as his eventual victory against Hilary Clinton on election night.
Trump rise to power should be seen, primarily, through the prism of class rather than the racial and sexual identity politics which so obsesses our liberal elites. Trump hard-line positioning on illegal immigration, trade policy and offshoring of jobs by American companies as well as his “America first” foreign policy was hugely appealing to blue-collar voters throughout the heartlands. The economic populism of the Trump message cut through to many, including first time or “once in a generation” voters who came out in force on Election Day. Trump also performed much better than expected among minority voters which helped ensure his narrow victory in Florida among other key battlefield states.
Donald Trump’s victory may have appeared highly improbable to the betting markets and political experts but for the few who did consider him in a strong position to win, the potential profit awards were huge. For those who had placed a bet on the Donald winning the election on the day I published my 2016 predictions, 10 January 2016, the odds were heavily stacked against Trump with a £100 wager delivering a profit of nearly £800 on betfair. Forecasting can be a very lucrative business for those who get it right.
My third prediction was that Britain would narrowly vote to leave the European Union (EU) in the Brexit referendum. Whilst the refugee crisis wasn’t as bad as I feared at the beginning of the year, the broader issue of the migration crisis, the question of future Turkish membership and concerns about the impact on jobs and local public services was central to the referendum debate. As it turned out, I was correct in forecasting that these concerns, along with a broader anger over the loss of sovereignty to Brussels, would tip the British electorate to vote for a narrow Leave victory.
So, for the three fixed political events of the year, which were guaranteed to happen, I successfully predicted every one.
My fourth prediction that civil unrest would explode in Germany between refugees and far-right activists, clearly did not happen on the scale predicted. Whilst the German town of Bautzen did see violence between refugees and the local far-right on one night in September, this did not act as a trigger for wider violence across the country.
Angela Merkel has had a difficult year, culminating in the horrific Berlin Christmas market terror attack at the end of 2016. The German public is waking up to the huge challenge of integrating over 1.2 million migrants. A sobering statistic is that currently only 3% of the refugees who have arrived since 2015 are in employment with the rest unemployed.
Although Angela Merkel’s own party has endorsed her as a candidate to run in the federal elections in 2017, her sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) has refused which is unheard of in post-war German politics.
The refusal of the Bavarian CSU to endorse Merkel is clearly part of an on-going revolt by the conservative forces within the CDU/CSU political bloc to drag Merkel to the right or force her out of office. Therefore, the above events provide a minimum clearing to trigger my forecasting prediction made at the beginning of the year that conservative forces would try to remove Merkel from office during 2016.
My final prediction of the year, with a 75% probability rating, was of a simultaneous ISIS terror attack in at least two west European countries. Thankfully, this did not happen as I feared and the European security services have done an excellent job in preventing the many terror plots hatched throughout the year. Europe has seen a number of major jihadi terror attacks, including the cities Brussels, Nice and Berlin. Whilst the jihadi terror threat didn’t play out exactly as I predicted, the countries which have suffered from terrorism was on my list of likely candidates at the beginning of the year.
Overall, my Brier score for my 2016 forecasts is 0.18 with 4 out of 6 forecasts proven accurate.
Please note that the Brier formula works that the lower the score the more accurate with 1 being the worst and 0 being the best possible score.
I will shortly be publishing my predictions for the year 2017 so please feel welcome to add yourself as a subscriber to Forecasting Intelligence at the bottom of this page.