Marking my 2023 predictions
A pretty bad year for predicting the future, all told.
When I wrote my 23 predictions for 2023, I expressed some hesitancy about the practice.
On the one hand, I think they introduce some welcome accountability to the profession. If your predictions are printed in a prominent enough place people can go back and check them once the year is out, and decide if you got things wrong for the right reasons or the wrong ones. Because you will always get some stuff wrong.
On the other hand, the whole idea kind of leans into that notion that we are reporting on a particularly complex sport, rather than the operation of power - that the ultimate stance one needs is one of detached but knowing irony.
I retain this apprehension about the practice. Indeed, I think it has become stronger. Why? Well because I had really bad year!
But accountability is crucial in this dirty old game, even if this is a free newsletter from the other side of the world. So let’s look at my 23 predictions.
1: The result of the New Zealand general election will not be completely clear on the night, as the difference from the yet to be counted “special votes” will be potentially crucial to deciding who governs.
Result: 6/10. The special vote was crucial and there was a wait for them before coalition negotiations began. But the overall question of who was going to be in Government - Labour or National - was clearly decided on election night. So I think I get a few points but not the sweep.
2: At least three quarters of votes will be cast before election day. This is not a particularly heroic prediction - it hit 68% last time, up from 48% in 2017.
Result: 0/10. Wrong, idiot. It was just 48% - essentially reverting to the 2017 mean. It looks like the higher turnout in 2020 (82% compared to 78% in 2023) had something to do with a higher rate of advance voting. Ie: The people who vote every year are probably election-day voters, the ones who flit in and out are more likely to vote early. But the larger change was probably the lack of a pandemic - and perhaps fewer voters being absolutely certain early on.
3: Chlöe Swarbrick retains the seat of Auckland Central. The Greens don’t come anywhere close to winning any other electorate.
Result: 1/10. Swarbrick did win. But the Greens didn’t just come close to winning other electorates, they straight up just won Rongotai and Wellington Central, the two electorates I grew up in and should thus know the best.
4: David Seymour retains the seat of Epsom. The ACT Party don’t come anywhere to winning any other electorate
Result: 1/10. Are you sensing a pattern? I definitely underestimated the ability of minor parties to romp home in 2023, both in the party vote and in seats - ACT’s Brooke van Velden won Tāmaki.
5: Te Pāti Māori increase their total allocation of seats, although not necessarily by winning another electorate.
Result: 6/10. I mean nothing in this prediction is wrong, but it definitely underplays their result quite a bit - they won six of the seven Māori seats!
6: NZ First don’t make it back in. (I think. To be honest I could be convinced. But right now I don’t see it.)
Result: 0/10, go home, stay home, 1 2 3. Despite my silly little attempt to soften this one I was still completely off. Never write Winston off.
7: If Labour are not returned to Government, Jacinda Ardern will not still be leader by the end of the year. Grant Robertson will take over at first but will not necessarily be in it for the long run: Other contenders for the throne include Chris Hipkins and Kiri Allan.
Result: 2/10. Well I mean look, Jacinda Ardern is not leader any more, and Chris Hipkins was definitely a contender to replace her. But I predicted her going after a loss, and predicted an immediate Grant Robertson takeover. Kiri Allan was considered a bit of a contender as she resigned - but was far from a contender by the time the election loss rolled around. So pretty wrong.
8: If National lose Nicola Willis will take over as leader, if Luxon does go. If National lose by a slim margin and he decides to stay on he could do so.
Result: 0/0. National didn’t lose so this one is kind of a wipe.
9: There is some kind of legal action over who gets included in the TV debates.
Result: 0/0. Nope.
10: And the big question? I think when you look at the fundamentals around the economy, and the consistent trend in the polls, it’s more likely than not that National leads the next Government. Thanks to the pandemic people have seen a lot of the Government in the last three years, and I think this combined with some big mis-steps have contributed to a sense of fatigue with the Government that is usually earned after nine years, not six. But to get a bit Nate Silver here, I’m dropping this down from the status of a full-on prediction, because there are just far too many things that can happen before election day to know this something close to sure. In other words, I’d happily bet $100 that National win. But I wouldn’t bet $1000.
Result: 8/10. Like the cowardly idiot that I am, I was too chicken to make this a full prediction. If I had I would have given myself the 10 points.
11: The budget features a decent amount of money for middle and lower earners, either through a tax cut or some other payment.
Result: 0/10. A pretty mealy-mouthed nothing of a prediction, and yet still one that was largely wrong. The big headline announcements from Budget 2023 came not in the form of direct transfers but through things like ECE and cheaper prescriptions.
12: Labour promise a new significant spending policy if they win in 2023 - either in the early childhood space or in dental.
Result: 10/10. Finally some fucking wisdom. Labour delivered on early childhood in the Budget but made it not come into effect until March of 2024, making it essentially an election promise. And they also announced as massive extension of subsidised dental care.
13: Rachel Brooking wins the Labour Party selection for the safe Labour seat of Dunedin being vacated by David Clark.
Result:10/10. More wisdom from my past self.
14: Fleur Fitzsimons wins the Labour Party selection for the safe seat of Rongotai being vacated by Paul Eagle.
Result: 7/10. I was right about the selection. I was wrong about the seat being safe!
15: The TVNZ/RNZ merger is delayed, scaled back, or abandoned altogether.
Result: 10/10. It was abandoned.
16: Barbara Edmonds is made a minister.
Result: 10/10. Not the hardest prediction, but I will take these points where I can get them thanks.
17: UK Labour retain a strong poll lead over the Conservatives, although it slackens significantly as the memory of the Trusstastrophe fades. No general election is held. Boris Johnson makes some sort of attempt to win back power.
Result: 5/10. Labour retain a strong poll lead over the conservatives and no general election was held. It has slackened slightly, from 47-25 to 43-25 per the Politico rolling average, but not “significantly” as I predicted. Johnson resigned from Parliament and is back to being a columnist, for now. So a bit right, but a bit wrong.
18: Donald Trump faces a much steeper climb to win the 2024 GOP nomination than expected, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis leading in a lot of polls. He doesn’t seem to really rise to the challenge. (There are no actual primary elections in 2023 so we won’t have a clear idea of the eventual winner.)
Result: 0/10. DeSantis doesn’t lead in any polls any more. Nikki Haley has had some good New Hampshire polling but is not leading Trump. Total defeat for my prediction.
19: Joe Biden announces that he will stand again in 2024. He faces no serious primary opposition.
Result: 8/10. Strictly true - Biden’s not really got much of a primary challenge from Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson. But he does have a weird quasi-primary challenge from a Kennedy.
20: The end of the fuel tax cut in New Zealand is fairly messy for the Government.
Result: 6/10. I don’t know if “messy” is quite what I’d call it but it certainly didn’t help Labour.
21: Global inflation slows down significantly from its peaks, without disappearing. There is still fighting in Ukraine at the end of the year.
Result: 10/10. We don’t have a full global figure for the whole year but inflation is down across the board.
22: China’s reopening sees a horrific amount of death for its elderly, many of whom are not fully vaccinated.
Result: 6/10. The data from China is not good enough for me to be sure on this one. We know that there was a big surge in deaths in February particularly. Some estimates put the death toll well over a million.
23: The number of people on the public housing waitlist continues its very slow decline.
Result: 0/10. Wrong! It started to rise again, from 23,129 in December to 25,433. It’s also not “people” it’s “households” so will actually be far larger than that - so particularly bad work, past Henry.
Full result: 106/2201. Not even a pass!
Enjoy your summer!
If you;’re looking for the extra 10 points, the prediction about what would happen if National lost didn’t score any points but didn’t lose any, if that makes sense.