Here at Political Tribune, we’ve written about Professor Allan Lichtman before. He’s the “Nostradamus” of presidential elections who’s gone 9-for-9 over the last four decades in calling the winner, and he even predicted mere moments into his presidency that not only would Donald Trump be impeached, but that he’d be acquitted as well. It looks like magic, but in reality, politics is pretty predictable if you can take out your own bias.
That’s because Lichtman bases his predictions on the history of every election going all the way back to 1860 and the fact that the outcome is essentially based on how the party currently controlling the White House is doing in terms of the rest of the government.
That means this time around, the incompetence and intransigence of the rest of the GOP may hurt Donald Trump just as much as his own stupidity — a staggering concept to even try and consider, since Trump is far and away the most inept leader of any country on earth in history.
But Lichtman’s “Keys to the White House” are a set of thirteen simple true or false questions. If six or more of the answers are “false,” Lichtman says, the party in power is on the way out:
- Party Mandate — After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the House than it did after the previous midterm elections
- Contest — There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination
- Incumbency — The incumbent-party candidate is the sitting president
- Third party — There is no significant third party or independent campaign
- Short-term economy — The economy is not in recession during the election campaign
- Long-term economy — Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms
- Policy change — The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy
- Social unrest — There is no sustained social unrest during the term
- Scandal — The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal
- Foreign/military failure — The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs
- Foreign/military success — The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs
- Incumbent charisma — The incumbent-party candidate is charismatic or a national hero
- Challenger charisma — The challenging-party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero
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As you can see, the “false” answers for Trump this time around far exceed the true. The GOP holds fewer seats than after the previous midterms, there is no serious third-party campaign, the economy is in far worse than a recession, economic growth is way down, there is massive nationwide social unrest, the Trump administration has been an unending series of scandals, he’s ignored the Russian/Taliban bounties on American soldiers, and he hasn’t had a single military success thus far in his presidency.
That’s already two more false answers than necessary for Trump to lose according to Lichtman’s model. But on the final two keys, even if you consider Trump to be “charismatic” — and he undeniably is at least among his base — Joe Biden enjoys almost an endowed sense of charisma from his service in the Obama administration. And Obama was perhaps the first president ever to appear in Lichtman’s model for whom those answers were all true in 2012 except seats in the House.
If this holds true for 2020, polling — the same polling that kept telling us Hillary Clinton was going to win in 2016 — would be nothing more than opinion snapshots in time. Donald Trump would suffer a worse fate than any president in recent memory.
We can get down with that. Here’s Professor Lichtman in a video produced for the New York Times explaining it himself:
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