Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, says he can predict the outcome of any U.S. presidential election. His predictions have been right in every presidential election since 1984, and often months or years in advance.
Lichtman and Volodia Keilis-Borok, a Russian scientist, came up with the keys in the early 1980s. He makes his predictions based on 13 true/false statements that he says indicate whether the incumbent party will retain the White House or lose it in a given election.
The keys, which are explained in depth in Lichtman’s book “Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016” are:
- Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than 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.
“Journalists don’t pay attention to that and treat the horse-race polls as though they were predictive of what’s going to happen many months from now. They’re not. Whereas the keys to the White House, which don’t use any polls, have two advantages. No. 1, they’re based upon a theory of how elections really work, not just on random looking at polls. No. 2, they tell you exactly what has to happen for one party or the other party to win. And thirdly, very often, they can make predictions years ahead of time. This is a difficult election to call, which is why I haven’t called it yet, but it’s not an impossible election to call.”
So was he right? His prediction is as follows:
Based on the 13 keys, it would predict a Donald Trump victory. Remember, six keys and you’re out, and right now the Democrats are out — for sure — five keys.
Key 1 is the party mandate — how well they did in the midterms. They got crushed.
Key number 3 is, the sitting president is not running.
Key number 7, no major policy change in Obama’s second term like the Affordable Care Act.
Key number 11, no major smashing foreign policy success.
And Key number 12, Hillary Clinton is not a Franklin Roosevelt.
“One more key and the Democrats are down, and we have the Gary Johnson Key. One of my keys would be that the party in power gets a “false” if a third-party candidate is anticipated to get 5 percent of the vote or more. In his highest polling, Gary Johnson is at about 12 to 14 percent. My rule is that you cut it in half. That would mean that he gets six to seven, and that would be the sixth and final key against the Democrats. So very, very narrowly, the keys point to a Trump victory.”