Five bold predictions for 2016

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Political prognostication is not an exact science despite what forecasters and pundits would have readers believe. Many fall somewhere between the obvious and the inane, and often take a familiar and non-threatening shape.

“The race for (insert candidate here) comes down to which campaign turns out their voters,” or some similar form. Imagine a sports reporter telling the audience a game’s winner is “the team with the most points.”

Not exactly going out on a limb, are they?

Bold predictions are more than just simple guesswork; they are to be conversation (and argument) starters. Real analysts do not restate the obvious, like some academics, but provide a reasonable outlook on the future, as well as a fresh take on the political landscape.

With that, here five bold predictions of what’s in store for Florida politics in 2016.

Ted Cruz will be the Republican presidential nominee AFTER a brokered convention.

Cruz takes Iowa. Donald Trump takes New Hampshire, followed by Cruz and Chris Christie. Marco Rubio does well in South Carolina and Nevada, but then the Texas Tea Partier mops up in the “SEC primary” on March 1.

Twenty-six states will vote prior to March 15, and the delegates in these states will be awarded proportionally. Neither Cruz nor Trump or Rubio or whoever the other surprise winner is, will be able to run away with the nomination.

Beyond March, these three or four last-men-standing will avoid clashing with each other — Cruz winning here, Trump or Rubio winning there — until July 18-21 in Cleveland, where the establishment will make a deal with the Devil by siding with Cruz over Trump.

At least one of Florida’s seven statewide elected officials will not be in office by the end of the year.

Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi, and Adam Putnam are all in good health. As is Bill Nelson, who recently underwent prostate surgery. So this isn’t to suggest that something ill will happen to one of them.

But something will happen — ambition, opportunity, scandal — to one of these seven that will prompt them to resign early.

Jeff Atwater has previously shown a willingness to give up being CFO. Maybe CLC will resign the LG post to focus on his campaign for the U.S. Senate. Or maybe Fox News makes Bondi an offer she can’t refuse. Who knows the reason, just bank on a vacancy before December 31.

The Florida Legislature will end the 2016 Legislative Session a) on time AND b) with a sizable list of noteworthy accomplishments.

Making this prediction, I feel like Charlie Brown running at the football being held by Lucy. Come Sine Die, I’ll probably be writing “Aaugh!” after another session collapses. But in the meantime, I’m optimistic.

I think Joe Negron and Jack Latvala settling the Senate presidency race will improve the environment. I think the redistricting saga winding down will improve the environment. I think a strong Speaker Designate — Richard Corcoran — waiting in the wings will improve the environment.

Heck, even the earlier start time, which will allow lawmakers to go on Spring Break with their kids, will improve the environment. Most important, Steve Crisafulli and Andy Gardiner do not want as their legacies a repeat of what happened in 2015.

A Seminole Compact will be signed.

The deal Gov. Scott struck with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is a) better than has been reported but is b) a Spruce Goose seemingly too heavy to take off.

This is exactly why A (not THE, as it is currently drafted) compact will be agreed to by all parties. The Legislature will hang amendments all over this Christmas tree of a deal; Scott will sign off on them because he really doesn’t care either way; and the Seminole Tribe will eventually agree to a revised Compact because the certainty of a deal will allow it to bond its way into an even more lucrative future.

A major hurricane will strike the state AND there will be a riot in some city in Florida.

It’s been more than 10 years since the Sunshine State received a direct hit from a hurricane. The last time a big storm touched our shores was when Hurricane Wilma made landfall in late October 2005.

Well, guess what, eventually the ball lands on double zero on the roulette wheel. Florida is due, dammit. So buy your batteries, bottled water and plywood now.

As for the prediction about a riot taking place, not to be all Glenn Beck-y, but, again Florida is due. And too many Florida cops are killing too many unarmed (mostly) teenaged people of color for hell not to break loose sooner or later. Hopefully the hurricane does not hit the city in which the riot occurs.

Bonus prediction, which is a double-down on a bad bet from last year: One of the major Florida newspapers will cease daily publication in 2016.

There are just too many cars on the street for the horse-and-buggy to remain in existence. Just as New Orleans’ Times-Picayune cut staff and went to putting out a hard-copy three days a week, so will one of the Sunshine State’s daily newspapers, many of which are still struggling to adjust to a digital environment.

Which newspaper will make the change? It’s hard to say, although it’s a wonder how the Tampa Bay market supports two major dailies.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.