The Washington Post’s Peter W. Stevenson sat down with Professor Allan Lichtman last week to discuss who he believes is going to win the presidential election.
Lichtman is famous for his “13 Keys” method of predicting presidential winners — and he’s been right on every election since 1984. His “keys” consist of 13 true or false statements, and if the incumbent party gets at least six “false” answers, they lose.
Here are the keys:
- 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.
According to Lichtman, Hillary Clinton is already down five keys:
“Key 1 is the party mandate — how well they did in the midterms. They got crushed. Key number 3, 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.”
Let’s take a look at some others.
Key 4 appears to be a “false” as well. Lichtman claims that a “significant” third party candidate is one who is able to “get 5 percent of the vote or more.” According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is currently pulling approximately 8.3% of the vote. That could change as the election nears. For now, however, his model predicts a “false” on key 4.
Key 8 may be “false” as well, depending on what the definition of “sustained unrest” is. With the recent spate of high-profile shootings, riots in Baltimore, St. Paul, Milwaukee, and Charlotte, and the growing influence of the Black Lives Matter social justice movement, the current climate may well qualify as “sustained unrest.”
Key 11 may well turn into a “true” statement if, as some are predicting, Iraqi troops, U.S. military, and other coalition forces begin the fight to take back the city of Mosul from ISIS in October. That would likely be touted as a major foreign policy success for the Obama administration, as Mosul is the Islamic State’s de facto capital and last major stronghold city.
Lastly, key 13 is a toss up. Many seem to agree on key 12 that Clinton lacks charisma — so much so that it’s become a pop culture meme. SNL regularly lampoons Clinton’s “unrelatability.” On the flip side, it can be argued that Donald Trump, for all his difficulties, has attracted voters due in large part to his big personality and personal magnetism. Given this, key 13 may be a “false” as well.
All told, it appears that eight keys may qualify as “false,” with key 11 as a toss up. If Lichtman’s model holds true, and only five or more keys are required, Donald Trump will win the presidential election on November 8th.