Allan Lichtman, an author and history professor at American University, has predicted every presidential election since 1984 correctly, including 2016 when Trump beat Clinton. Now he’s predicting Biden to beat Trump in 2020.
“The pollsters and the pundits cover elections as though they were horse races,” Lichtman said in the Times’ video. “But history tells us voters are not fooled by the tricks of the campaign. Voters vote pragmatically according to how well the party holding the White House has governed the country.”
Lichtman’s prediction model looks at 13 categories he calls “the keys to the White House.” The model has more to do with the performance of the incumbent in the White House than the nominees themselves, and the model favors Biden on 7 of the 13 categories.
- 1. Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the House than it did after the previous midterm elections. False. “Republicans lost the U.S. House midterms in 2018.”
- 2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent-party nomination. True. “No Republicans challenged Trump.”
- 3. Incumbency: The sitting president is running for re-election. True. “Doesn’t look like he’s stepping down.”
- 4. Third Party: There is no major third-party challenge. True. “Despite claims by Kanye West to be running, this is a two-party race.”
- 5. Short-Term Economy: The economy during the election season is not in recession. False. “The [coronavirus] pandemic has pushed the economy into recession.”
- 6. Long-Term Economy: Real annual per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the two previous terms. False. “The pandemic has caused such negative GDP growth in 2020 that the key has turned false.”
- 7. Policy Change: The incumbent causes major changes in national policy. True. ”Through his tax cut, but mostly through his executive orders, Trump has fundamentally changed the policies of the Obama era.”
- 8. Social Unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the campaign. False. “There has been considerable social unrest on the streets, with enough violence to threaten the social order.”
- 9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandals. False. “As I predicted, Trump was impeached. Plus, he has plenty of other scandals.”
- 10. Foreign or Military Failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.True.“We’ve had some very difficult moments with Donald Trump, but so far, true.”
- 11. Foreign or Military Success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.False. “While Trump hasn’t had any big, splashy failures, he hasn’t had any major successes either.”
- 12. Incumbent Charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic.False. “Trump is a great showman, but he only appeals to a narrow slice of Americans.”
- 13. Challenger Charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic.True. “Biden is a decent, empathetic person, but he’s not inspirational or charismatic.”
Lichtman does offer a note of caution, referring to forces at play outside the model, including potential Russian interference and voter suppression.
See this story at CNBC.