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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Apr 20, 2021


I had many opinions on Donald Trump. I tried to back some of those opinions up with predictions about what would happen during his administration. Now that the dust has cleared, it's time to see how I did.

The summary: Of 48 specific predictions about Trump, I got 37 directionally right, although this is kind of meaningless. I got an average log error score of -0.48 (where getting everything right is 0 and guessing 50-50 for everything is -0.69) although this is also kind of meaningless. I quadrupled my money on prediction markets, which I think is meaningful. In terms of my more qualitative/implied predictions, got at least one important trend right before anyone else, but also made some embarrassing unforced errors.

Going through all my predictions post by post, and giving each a letter grade:

1: 10-23-2015: Trump's base is/will be surprisingly racially diverse (A-)

As far as I know, the first post I wrote about Trump was this one, where I argued against the prevailing narrative that Trump was practicing "the politics of white insecurity" or had an unusually white base of support (for a Republican). I wrote that Trump seemed to be doing pretty well (for a Republican) among blacks and Hispanics, and concluded that:

There are too few data to say anything for sure. But all of the data that exist suggest that if the Republican primary were held today and restricted to non-whites, Trump would still win. And if Trump were the Republican nominee, he could probably count on equal or greater support from minorities as Romney or McCain before him. In other words, the media narrative that Trump is doing some kind of special appeal-to-white-voters voodoo is unsupported by any polling data.

I was right. In the general election a year later, Trump did better than Romney had among non-white voters. He made large gains among blacks, Asians, and Latinos. The only ethnic group where he didn't gain at least five percentage points over Romney's numbers was whites. As I pointed out at the time, the narrative that Trump was especially appealing to white voters was bizarre and not truth-based, motivated primarily by a demand for racist Republicans on the part of increasingly woke narrative-consumers.