Predictions for 2016
As we enter 2016, there is only one prediction that everyone cares about. Let’s start off with a look back at 2012, when I predicted that:
“President Obama will edge out Mitt Romney in the presidential election. While a lot of factors, including a real lack of support for Obama among independent voters, favor the Republicans, it is hard to imagine Romney out-campaigning or out-debating President Obama. So, Romney, along with his running mate Florida Senator Marco Rubio, will take the vote in Florida, but Obama will win Ohio, Virginia, and enough other battlegrounds to win the election. He’ll win the popular vote by only 2-3%.”
I did pretty well considering it was only January 2012 and the Republican primaries had not yet begun. Mitt Romney unwisely chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, lost Florida, as well as Ohio and Virginia, and Obama went on to win with 3.9% of the electorate favoring him.
So, what’s my prediction for 2016? Well, I could take the easy route and choose Hillary Clinton, who the traders at www.predictt.com give a 54% of winning, with challengers Trump, Rubio, and Cruz splitting most of the rest of the odds.
I’m going to take a chance, however, and say that Republicans, in the end, want to win the election, and will select the candidate most likely to do so – which brings me back to my 2012 Vice Presidential prediction – Marco Rubio. If they choose Rubio, Republicans will be more likely to win than not. If Rubio chooses a strategically savvy running mate who can balance his youth with a sense of gravitas while delivering a swing state, like Ohio, then I think Rubio would very likely win the election.
So there you have it, my prediction is that a Rubio-Kasich ticket defeats a Clinton-Crist (Crist would make an interesting choice, given that Clinton might not want to concede Florida) ticket in a very close election – one that might even be won with electoral, but not popular, votes.
Or . . . one of the other candidates wins the Republican nomination, says a lot of interesting things, and gets thumped by five or more points in October . . .
2). What about Congress? Well, in the unlikely event that things unfolded like I just described above, congressional representation would not likely change much. Maybe a couple additional seats for Republicans in the House with little movement in the Senate.
3). As for all the other things going on in the world, the fate of ISIS is what most interests would-be prognosticators. I was a bit pollyannaish last year – thinking that, given time, the weight-of-numbers would favor the Iraqi army which, with support from the US and others, would retake Mosul and much of the rest of northern Iraq. I still stick by this prediction, I just think it was a bit early. Mosul is apparently heavily fortified, and will take a major effort to win. My prediction — Mosul will fall to Iraqi forces in December 2016.
As for Syria – I’m actually slightly more hopeful for the upcoming year. The Russian intervention, as much as it has irritated the Obama administration and Turkey, might be a blessing in disguise as the Russians will be increasingly motivated to find a solution to the ongoing crisis – even if it means pushing Assad aside. After five years of conflict, I think this is the year that things get serious negotiation-wise in Syria.
In the West, however, ISIS will be as big a threat as ever. Now that ISIS has realized what Al Qaeda never did – that mass carnage is more accessible with firearms than it is with explosives – I would expect more ISIS-inspired shootings to occur.
4). Even deadlier this year than ISIS, Nigerian-based Boko Haram continued to grow stronger in 2015. There is no evidence that the Nigerian government will make any more inroads against the group in 2016 and will, in desperation, probably seek to negotiate some sort of settlement with the group – perhaps even offering a safe haven in northeast Nigeria. This will be a bad idea.
5). Vladamir Putin was another boogeyman in the West in 2015. After taking territory in Ukraine year, many predict more potential problems in other places home to Russia diaspora – like Estonia.
I’d argue that Putin is effectively deterred in areas under NATO control, like the Baltics, and has no interest in alienating governments in Central Asia, like Kazakhstan, which, while home to sizable Russian minorities, maintain relatively close ties to Moscow.
Putin’s main goal in 2016 will be to undo the diplomatic and economic fallout of Russian actions in 2015. This year will witness Putin attempt to play the part of wise man and peacemaker. He may not get very far with the West, but 2016 will see a very different face of the Kremlin.
6). The Trans Pacific Partnership treaty that was signed in October has not played a major role in the Presidential primaries because both Democrats have come out against it, most Republicans are in favor of it, and nobody wants to touch it during election season. Nevertheless, the White House has stated that they would like a Congressional vote on the treaty sooner rather than later. My guess – the White House tries to trot it out in the spring, finds that Mitch McConnell was right in suggesting that a vote wait until after the election, tables the idea for a while, and later a lame-duck Congress approves it as President Obama’s last achievement as he’s headed out the door.
7). Mahmoud Abbas is old and increasingly without either purpose or legitimacy as head of the Palestinian Authority. By the end of the year, he will either be out or on his way out of the door.
8). Searching for a positive story for the year, I like this prediction from Al Jazeera:
“Keep an eye on Cyprus, an island divided since 1974. ‘The Cyprus Problem’ has defeated international diplomats for decades, but there are hopeful signs that Greek and Turkish leaders on the island are actually serious about reunification.”
Sounds good to me.
9). My tech prediction for the year is somewhat personal. Epidural stimulation for spinal cord injuries is the real deal and set to be tested on dozens of people over the next couple years. So far it has worked on all four people that it has been tested on. The sight of paralyzed people standing up again will make for some good visuals for the journalists out there. The introduction of this technology might even be bigger medical story than the impending deluge of Zika virus stories we are likely to see this year.
10). And, finally, my prediction for the Best Picture Oscar goes to . . .
Spotlight – because it’s already heavily favored and fits the modus operandi of the Academy, which likes stories about people overcoming injustice.
Finally, as a bonus, my Superbowl prediction is the Arizona Cardinals over the Pittsburgh Steelers – let’s say 27-17. As with my other predictions, make sure you put some money on it. Happy 2016 everyone!