Professor Allan Lichtman has an unblemished record of predicting US Presidential election winners and on this simple basis, his opinion and prediction of likely victor is worthy of taking seriously. One might ask, who is anyone to question him?
Allan Lichtman, Historian, Phd from Harvard, author of “Keys to the Whitehouse” has correctly predicted the winners of the previous 9 presidential elections since Reagan’s 49 state landslide in 1984. Allan Lichtman, a keen New York Yankies fan (that’s baseball to the British reader with a healthy disinterest in American sport) is therefore on a 9 game winning streak, 9 from 9. He has again stepped up to the plate and come out swinging. He has called the 2020 election for Joe Biden. Who would bet against Lichtman? Will he knock it out of the park and be 10 from 10 come Wednesday, or will he strike out, end his winning streak confused by a Trump 2020 knuckleball? Enough of the cheesy baseball metaphors…
Lichtman has developed a predictive method which he rigidly applies in calling in advance the victor in a US Presidential election. His method was developed in collaboration with a Russian academic, a geophysical engineer with an interest in predictive methods and how they might be applied to social issues such as elections, phenomena unmeasurable in 1980s Russia. You can find out all about Allan Lichtman, his ‘13 keys’ model and why he has determined that Joe Biden will win the 2020 race by watching Patrick Bet-David’s interview with Lichtman from early September.
He 13 keys model works by asking questions relating to the current political, social and economic situation, historical events and candidate personality. The method assess the likelihood of the incumbent party retaining the Presidency. Does the answer to each key question ‘turn the key’ for the incumbent (in this case Republican Donald J Trump), or does the answer fail to turn the key? If Trump fails on 6 of the 13 keys, the method dictates that he will lose to the (in this case Democrat) opponent, whoever that may be. So what are these key indicators, these ‘keys’ that Lichtman has included?
The 13 key Metrics to the Lichtman method (which always calls the winner):
- Party mandate (recent success trend.)
- Primary contest.
- Third Party.
- Short term economy.
- Long term economy.
- Political Change.
- Social unrest.
- Foreign military failure.
- Foreign military success
- Incumbent charisma.
- Challenger charisma.
Lichtman has scored Trump at 6 ‘Trues’ and 7 ‘Falses’. Two few ‘trues’ for Trump to win re-election, therefore, according to Lichtman, Biden will win the election, Lichtman will take the plaudits and the Democrats and academics will be happily slapping Lichtman on the back and buying him post COVID lunches.
So is that it? Well, not quite.
Lichtman, to his credit, emphasises that an essential ingredient to the method is the removal of personal bias. Lichtman is a staunch Democrat. He trusts Obama and detests Trump (he doesn’t hide this, again, credit to him for his openness). However, it is this very ingredient of personal bias and judgement in assessing the keys which I believe Lichtman has failed to accurately temper in his scoring. I postulate that Trump would turn at least 8 keys, arguably more, and that Lichtman’s method if accurately applied would predict a Trump win.
Where I agree with Lichtman – (keys that are unarguable):
Keys numbers: 2. Primary contest (Trump); 3. Incumbency (Trump); 4. Third Party (Trump); 7. Political change (Trump); 8. Social unrest (Biden); 9 Scandal (Biden). This gives Trump a lead (Trump 4, Biden 2)
Where I will accept Lichtman’s judgement call:
Keys 1. Party mandate (Biden); 10. Foreign military failure (Trump); Challenger charisma (Trump). This extends Trumps lead to Trump 6, Biden 3.
Where I challenge Lichtman’s accurate call on his own method are keys 5, 6, 11 and 12.
Lichtman calls these for Biden. His judgement is that the short and long term economy metrics are a fail for Trump. I disagree, especially considering the third quarter record 33% GDP growth announced subsequent to Lichtman’s day of prediction. The record breaking bounce-back from the COVID pandemic fallout, tax cuts, 401K satisfaction DOW Jones rises since 2016, job creation in the pre-COVID period and positive economic indicators from voter satisfaction surveys immediately prior to the elections would have me turning the keys 5 and 6 on the economy for Trump.
With the defeat of ISIS, peace deals in the Middle East, the defusing Korean tensions and the successful military assignments against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and General Qasem Soleimani not on Lichtman’s radar – perhaps he’s in tune with the masses, perhaps I am, but I turn Lichtman’s foreign Military success key 11 for Trump too.
Lichtman doesn’t appear to be too taken with the President and he gives Trump a fail on charisma. That’s where my bias clashes with his – I can’t believe, whatever a person may make of Donald J Trump, that they can not see his charisma. No point in arguing this judgement call other than to say I disagree – charisma Key 12 goes to Trump.
So, in summary – I quite like Lichtman’s method. He’s the expert and he gives Trump 6 keys, two few to be re-elected. I’m the amateur. I give Trump 10 keys. Biden with only 3 falls short of the magic 6 and therefore, I suggest Lichtman’s method tells us that Trump will win even though Lichtman himself does not.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file