According to the New York Times video below, Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, has had a “perfect” record of predicting the winners of election since 1984, and that supposedly includes Trump’s win over Clinton four years ago (but see the caveat below). Lichtman is a Democrat, but says that he keeps his own views out of his predictions, which are based on a method laid out in his 1996 book The Keys to the White House. His method is based on answering “true” or “false” to 13 questions about the country and the candidate (only two are about the candidate’s own characteristics), and counting the number of “false” answers. Here are the “keys” from Wikipedia:
The Keys are statements that favor victory (in the popular vote count) for the incumbent party. When five or fewer statements are false, the incumbent party is predicted to win the popular vote; when six or more are false, the challenging party is predicted to win the popular vote.
- 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 (party) charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
- Challenger (party) charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.
The above 13 keys are slightly different from the 12 keys originally proposed in 1981.
Now this is somewhat subjective, as there are questions like “is there a major scandal around the President?” and “is the candidate charismatic?”. Further, while the article below touts his perfect record in prediction, you have to qualify that a bit. As Wikipedia notes,
In the contested election of 2000, the system predicted the popular vote winner, although not actual winners. As a result in 2000, he predicted using his system that Gore would be the next president; Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college. In September 2016, the Keys forecast that Donald Trump would win the popular vote in the 2016 election, whereas he lost the popular vote, but won the electoral college.
So you have to do some fast tap-dancing to say Lichtman’s record is “perfect”. Nevertheless, he has now predicted the winner of the popular vote in November’s election. If you click on the screenshot below, you’ll go to a short video in which Lichtman runs through the questions and comes up with a prediction. I won’t reveal it here; watch the video and try not to give away the answer in the comments.
Now of course Lichtman isn’t really “perfect”, and you can take what he says with a grain of salt, but all of us are biting our nails about November. I predicted that Trump would lose, but those are based on “Coyne’s Key”, which involve only one question: “Did the incumbent make a perfect ass of himself in a way that would alienate most Americans?” Let’s have a brief poll to see where readers stand. This is for the winner of the electoral college vote, that is, who gets to be President in January.