back to top

24 People Who Predicted 2016 Really Quite Badly

"I've got a good feeling about 2016."

Posted on
Jean-francois Monier / AFP / Getty Images

It's never easy to predict the future, and 2016 has made things a great deal harder. Here, we pay tribute to those who attempted the impossible, and, 2016 being 2016, inevitably failed. We salute you – well, most of you, anyway.

1. Anonymous "insiders", Politico

Alex Wong / Getty Images

2016 has been a bad year for political insiders the world over – but for a group of anonymous insiders on Politico's predictive panel, it started off badly for many of those guessing how 2016 would pan out.

“The GOP nomination fight will come down to a slugfest for the soul of the party between two young Cuban-Americans”

Nope.

“When [Donald] Trump begins losing contests — starting with Iowa — he will begin to unravel quickly”

Also nope.

“Trump will not have a victory after the first four states and will exit the race”

Again, nope.

“The FBI will file criminal charges related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a home-brew email server as secretary of state”

And finally...nope.

2. The Fix team, Washington Post

Washington Post

The team at the Washington Post's political blog The Fix had a shaky start to 2016, with three of the team making predictions which didn't really pan out.

Editor Chris Cillizza forecast that "there will be a brokered Republican convention", while Jannell Ross predicted Ted Cruz would take the Republican candidacy – "Trump's presence in the race has very much opened the door to Cruz," Ross concluded.

Callum Borchers, meanwhile, told readers to expect Trump to end 2016 as a pundit: "Despite leading the GOP field for months, Trump will ultimately fail to win the party’s presidential nomination. That’s not a terribly original or bold prediction, and it leaves me to wonder what he will do next … expect Trump to finish the 2016 election cycle as a political commentator."

In The Fix's defence, though, the group did ask for their forecasts to be seen as a "fun exercise", and their colleague Phillip Bump picked up points for: "All of these predictions will turn out to be wrong." The man's a soothsayer.

Advertisement

4. Betting markets (in this case, PredictIt)

As faith fell in polling – thanks in part to a surprise Conservative majority win in the UK's 2015 election – betting markets became a more popular way to try to predict the future. But their record has been hit and miss, as this January 2016 piece from The Economist shows:

"At the time of writing, PredictIt reckons that the fight for the Republican nomination is between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and that Hillary Clinton has a 54% chance of becoming the next president."

5. @jamesrbuk, on Twitter

Clinton's lead is fairly small but solid, and backed by early voting. She's the heavy favourite coming in today. https://t.co/vmlESlJdPm

😐

6. This goat, from Scotland

Swns.com Katielee Arrowsmith / Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS.com

Boots, a goat from Jedburgh in Scotland, got off to a decent start predicting 2016, correctly forecasting that the UK would vote to leave the EU – putting him ahead of many pundits in this list.

But his "psychic" abilities failed him when it came to the US presidential race, where he picked a Clinton win without hesitation. Baaaaaa-d forecasting, kid.

7. Nigel Farage

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

As the polls closed on the EU referendum, Nigel Farage appeared to concede defeat in the vote.

"It's been an extraordinary referendum campaign, turnout looks to be exceptionally high and looks like Remain will edge it," he said. "UKIP and I are going nowhere and the party will only continue to grow stronger in the future."

Remain did not edge it.

Advertisement

8. Simon Reich, The Independent

The Independent

The Independent didn't shy off a big sell for Reich's look-ahead to 2016, hyping up his successful record in 2015. But at least three of Reich's five predictions didn't do nearly so well in 2016 (the other two are debatable).

"A muddled, fragile agreement, of sorts, is reached in Syria"

Sadly not.

"Donald Trump will not be the Republican candidate"

Nope.

"But yes, Hillary will be the Democratic candidate – and will be elected president"

And…nope.

9. Dr Carmen Harra, Huffington Post

Huffington Post

Harra kicked off her year with a series of worked-out, credible, and definitely in no way just totally made-up predictions for the year in a piece that opened with the promise that "the dark era is coming to an end. Many people believe that this is the beginning of a golden period anticipated for thousands of years."

Here's a couple of her other predictions to judge for yourself:

"Russia will continue to attack Ukraine but will sign a collaboration agreement with China. North and South Korea will join forces this year."

"I don’t see Trump in the final phases of the elections—something might happen to him."

"One of the leaders of Isis will be caught and this will reveal the headquarters of the terrorism group, leading to its destruction."

"Earthquakes will increase in strength and frequency once more this year. This is the Earth’s way of releasing pent-up energy because of the strain it’s endured."

10. The World Bank

Hoang Dinh Nam / AFP / Getty Images

The World Bank set out a forecast for oil prices through 2016 at the start of the year, reported by The Guardian as:

"[P]rices would stabilise below $40 for the rest of the year as high-cost oil producers make production cuts 'that are likely to outweigh any additional capacity coming to the market'."

At the time of writing, oil is at $52.79 a barrel.

11. Tom Phillips and James Ball, BuzzFeed

Chris Applegate / BuzzFeed News

Phillips and Ball (hi) spent ages devising a complex mathematical formula to scientifically predict who would win the Eurovision Song Contest.

It forecast Sweden would win the contest, with Russia in second place and Italy coming third.

Ukraine won the contest. Sweden finished fifth, Russia third, and Italy were...16th.

Asked to explain the dismal failure, Phillips told BuzzFeed News: “Well, we fucked that one."

12. Edward Snowden

Frederick Florin / AFP / Getty Images

Even the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden wasn't immune to the sweep of wrongmaking induced by 2016, as this tweet showed:

Advertisement

2016: a choice between Donald Trump and Goldman Sachs.

Snowden neatly tackled his own erroneous tweet himself later in the year, though.

The year in which America, faced with two bad options, asked "why not both?" https://t.co/JNYNSG1mxr

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

13. Stephen Bush, New Statesman

New Statesman

Bush wrote this as part of a series of five predictions at the start of the year.

His forecast was that as the Scottish parliament had its elections in May, the SNP would remain dominant, but "the same emotional connection that keeps that second party [Labour] from leapfrogging the first [the SNP] is enough to keep it from falling into third place".

Labour finished in third place with 24 seats, seven behind the Conservatives. To be fair to Bush, his other four predictions were pretty much spot-on. But that's not what this list is about.

14. William Hague, Conservative politician and former UK foreign secretary

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Lord Hague wrote an article for The Telegraph at the beginning of 2016 making a series of predictions over the timing and outcome of the Brexit vote.

"While there has been talk of a referendum in the early summer, it is the general law of EU negotiations that they take longer than anticipated," he wrote. "More likely timing is therefore in the autumn."

The election took place in June.

"As to the outcome of the EU referendum, on an average day the British public is split roughly 60-40 for staying in," said Hague. "Britain is a country utterly unenthusiastic about the EU but narrowly resigned to staying in it."

The British public voted to leave by 52% to 48%.

15. Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

@JonBergdahl Yes. Remain will win. Comfortably.

Hodges was one of numerous unfortunate pundits to hit on the double for 2016: publicly calling both Brexit and the US election wrong just days before their respective results.

In a Mail on Sunday article the week before the US went to the polls, Hodges wrote:

"Hillary Clinton is nearly there. The polls are narrowing, her supporters are fretting, Donald Trump is preparing for one final, desperate charge. But the clock has finally run out on him ... the unique nature of the US electoral college system allowed Hillary Clinton to build a path to power that circumnavigated Donald Trump's angry white men."

Advertisement

16. Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

ODD ANDERSEN/AFP / Getty Images

Many forecasters hedge their bets, but in the Financial Times' look ahead to 2016, Rachman did not. His headline asked: "Will Angela Merkel still be German chancellor at the end of the year?"

Rachman's first, one-word-long sentence of response was: "No."

"Although 2015 ended with Ms Merkel receiving a standing ovation at the conference of her ruling Christian Democratic Party (CDU), 2016 is likely to see the end of her long reign as chancellor," he continued.

Merkel remains the German chancellor, and in early December was re-elected as leader of her party with 89.5% of the vote – though she does face a general election in 2017.

17. James Forsyth, The Spectator

The Spectator

Forsyth had an unlucky run as a pundit covering the politics of the UK's ruling party. He wrote in January 2016 that then-PM David Cameron would benefit from infighting on the Eurosceptic wing of his party.

"This will make it that much easier for Cameron to put the Tory party back together again after the referendum," he said.

After losing the EU referendum, Cameron announced his resignation on 24 June, triggering a leadership contest. On the ensuing leadership contest, Forsyth wrote on 7 July that "it will be a closer race than expected between May and Leadsom".

On 11 July, Leadsom dropped out of the leadership contest and May took the Conservative party leadership unopposed.

18. Rachael Krishna, BuzzFeed

Scott Halleran / Getty Images

2016, predicted BuzzFeed's Krishna, would be the year capybaras took their place in the pantheon of animals that go viral on the internet. But alas, it was not to be.

This time last year I was obsessed with raccoons and then subsequently met one. I would like to achieve this again with capybaras.

"I fully believe that capybaras were the animal of this year and should have been more popular," she said. "In another universe they would have been, but their gorgeous nuzzly noses were overshadowed ... so yeah, I'd like 2016 to apologise for fucking over capybaras."

If you would like to see capybaras in action, here are some taking over the golf course at the Rio Olympics, here is a capybara escape from a Toronto zoo, and here is a tale of friendship between a dog and a capybara.

19. Daniel Taylor, The Guardian

Christophe Archambault / AFP / Getty Images

Politics wasn't the only thing that proved unpredictable in 2016. Way back in August 2015, Guardian football writer Daniel Taylor made his predictions for the 2016 Premier League season.

He predicted Bournemouth would be the most surprising team of the season, and that Leicester City would be relegated.

Instead, in a 5,000-to-1 shock, Leicester City won the premiership.

Advertisement

20. Drew Magary, Deadspin

Deadspin

This piece – written just two days before the US went to the polls – aged badly, and fast.

"[T]his isn’t close, and never was. The evidence right there in front of you, if you care to notice," Margary wrote.

"Trump is basically counting on voters to come out for him based on the sheer force of his personality, which is utterly repellent. Early voting already indicates that he’s fucked. Sure, he has a “path” to victory, if he wins a handful of states he has little chance of winning, slays a dragon, walks across a tightrope while balancing a baseball bat in his tiny palm, and recites the alphabet backwards and in Greek ...

"To believe that this butternut turd has any shot to win the Presidency is to believe that there is a sizable portion of the electorate that will break his way at the last moment, and there isn’t."

Oh dear.

21. Marcus Roberts, YouGov

If you're late to @davidplouffe's anti-bedwetting campaign here's a swarm of data points for you: https://t.co/Xa7RP2uHbv

Roberts really left himself no wriggle room. In a US election day thread, tweeting in a personal capacity, Roberts thoroughly set out why anyone fearing Clinton might not emerge the comfortable winner of the election was just panicked – a "bedwetter", to use a term coined by David Plouffe.

Roberts explained that turnout, the gender gap, and early votes all made the race a cinch for Clinton. He dismissed the risk of polls being wrong and early votes being misleading – and even pooh-poohed the model used by website FiveThirtyEight, which gave Clinton a lower chance of victory than others (while still forecasting that she'd win).

Clinton lost.

"2016 taught me not to be '100% certain' in politics ever again," Roberts told BuzzFeed News. "So I'm 99% sure I'll call France and Germany 2017 right."

22. Asa Bennett, The Telegraph

The Telegraph

London saw an often dirty campaign to choose its next mayor in the early months of 2016, with Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith's campaign accused of racial divisiveness in its bid to beat Labour's Sadiq Khan.

Goldsmith's campaign was seen to be flagging and defeated in the last few weeks of the election, but Bennett said he was in with a shot, listing six factors that favoured the Conservative.

"As decision time looms and voters consider their options, many may well look again at Zac Goldsmith," he concluded.

Sadiq Khan won the second-round vote by 57% to 43% – a landslide – becoming the first Muslim mayor of the UK's capital.

23. Barnaby Phillips, Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera

Phillips, Al Jazeera's Europe correspondent, was one of those brave enough to attempt a lengthy list of predictions for 2016, and like most of the others to try it, the year did not treat the list kindly. Predictions included:

"Donald Trump will not be the Republican candidate, but whoever is will be beaten by Hillary Clinton in November."

"[T]he British will decide, by a narrow margin, to stay in the EU. This time the sighs of relief will come from Washington, but also Brussels and Berlin."

"The European Football Championships this summer will be won by the World Champions, Germany, whose team still has youth and vitality."

(Portugal won.)

"Finally – and here my heart perhaps rules my head – the English Premiership will be won by ... Arsenal, ending a painful 12-year wait."

(Leicester City won.)

24. Jon Ronson

I've got a good feeling about 2016.

It gets worse.

I swear. On this day next year you'll be saying to me, "Jesus Jon, you were right. Nothing bad happened in 2016."

But hey, it's okay, at least he hasn't said anything about 2017...

it's okay. I'm pretty sure 2017 is going to be fine. https://t.co/Ql6tAnHW1J

Oh. Oh crap.

James Ball is a special correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. PGP: here

Contact James Ball at James.Ball@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.