Time to review my 2023 predictions—20 correct and 12 wrong for a 62.5% success rate, down from 74.2% last year. I blame four bad Oscar and Grammy picks.
Here’s what I got right. Ukraine gained on the battlefield but isn’t back to its prewar borders. The West provided critical aid but with growing war weariness. Vladimir Putin threw more into the fight, including violent convicts, but achieved no breakthrough. China suffered a Covid explosion (and stopped reporting cases and deaths). Xi Jinping increased pressure on Taiwan but didn’t invade.
President Biden said he’s running for re-election. Five candidates are in the hunt for the GOP presidential nomination. Mr. Biden finishes 2023 below 45% approval: 40.6% in the RealClearPolitics average to be precise. The Supreme Court ended racial preference in college admissions. The S&P 500 rose this year—up roughly 25% as of Wednesday.
House oversight on Afghanistan, Covid and especially the border was a headache for Mr. Biden. An Oct. 9 Fox News poll found only 30% approve of his handling of border security. The House passed most of the appropriations bills (seven of 12). The debt ceiling was raised, but it was ugly. More than two-thirds of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. Abortion remained a political headache for the GOP. Georgia won college football’s national championship. Tom Brady threw his last pass for Tampa Bay as the Buccaneers lost in the playoffs. And LeBron James became the NBA’s all-time scoring leader before the All-Star break.
On two issues I was half right and half wrong. Not only is the House hounding Hunter Biden, but he has been indicted twice. Though there’s no evidence yet that his father personally profited from his shenanigans, it’s worse than I thought it would be: 35% in an Oct. 9 Associated Press/National Opinion Research Center poll say the president did something illegal while 33% say he acted unethically. The U.S. avoided a recession and didn’t have a negative quarter.
I had 10 misses. Mr. Trump’s numbers didn’t fall but rose among Republicans—from 47% in the RealClearPolitics average on Jan. 1 to 62.5% Wednesday. Nancy Pelosi didn’t resign. No significant Democrat declared for the presidential nomination. Alejandro Mayorkas is still homeland security secretary. Starting in March, wages rose faster than prices. Europe became less rather than more dependent on oil, gas and nuclear. I went 0 for 3 on the Oscars. Harry Styles, not Taylor Swift, won Album of the Year at the Grammys.
Let’s gaze into the 2024 crystal ball. The Ukraine war remains stalemated, though F-16s shift the balance some. Europe increases its defense budgets and Ukraine aid. Congress approves Ukraine and Israel aid and passes border legislation. Border crossings are lower at year’s end. The Israel-Hamas war continues well into 2024, with the Israel Defense Forces occupying much of Gaza and no Palestinian government there. An investigation excoriates Benjamin Netanyahu for failures in the Oct. 7 attack; he’s out as prime minister. Yemen’s Houthi rebels hit more ships, so the U.S. robustly diminishes their capacity for damage, but not before the attacks have a significant effect on world trade. Iranian surrogates keep attacking U.S. forces in the region but are hit back hard. Hezbollah in Lebanon largely restrains itself. China ratchets up pressure on the Philippines and other South China Sea nations but doesn’t invade Taiwan.
The S&P 500 ends the year up, but by less than half this year’s gains. The economy grows by 2% or more. Crime leads to the defeat of progressive prosecutors, including George Gascón in Los Angeles.
The Supreme Court rules Mr. Trump isn’t immune from prosecution. He wins Iowa by an unconvincing margin. Nikki Haley wins New Hampshire. Unless she receives massive popular and financial support, he grinds her down, employing tricks with party rules.
Biden vs. Trump is a chaotic, nasty mess. Mr. Biden counts on Mr. Trump being convicted and voters adjusting to inflation’s effects. Mr. Trump counts on anger over a politicized justice system and Mr. Biden’s age and mental capacity. Most vote for whom they hate or fear less. Mr. Trump is convicted before November yet wins the election while Mr. Biden receives a plurality of the popular vote. The race is settled by fewer than 25,000 votes in each of four or fewer states. Third-party candidates get more votes in those states than Mr. Trump’s margin over Mr. Biden. God help our country.