With just weeks until Americans go to the polls to choose the next so-called “leader of the free world,” the election is being deemed too-close-to-call by most observers.
But not one. Alan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University, is giving the election to populist phenomenon Donald Trump.
And you might want to listen to him. He hasn’t been wrong in more than 30 years.
LISTEN: Prof who’s accurately called every presidential election since 1984 says Trump will win
Lichtman has been predicting elections since 1984, and he’s nailed it every time. So what’s the deal, is he that good at reading people?
Not exactly. Lichtman says his system is based on reading historical patterns. He has 13 key indicators designed as true or false statements that he designed looking at U.S. history from 1860-1980.
True statements favour the party in power, false the challenger. If six or more go to the challenger, they win. And this year, six favour the Republicans.
So is it a lock? Not quite, if you listen to Lichtman.
“I am greatly disturbed, but for the first time in 30 years I have issued a qualification to my prediction.”
That qualification is that this may be an election ready to buck the trends of history.
“In Donald Trump we have a history shattering candidate. We have a candidate the likes of which we have never seen before in modern American history.”
Lichtman says that “history shattering” designation rests on Trump’s success, despite highly publicized business and financial troubles, offensive statements that would have sidelined any other candidate, and “invitation” to Russia to “meddle” in the U.S. election.
Keys to victory
Some of the keys are fairly obvious, for example, ‘is there sustained social unrest?’ Or ‘is the country in recession?’ Others are more procedural or systemic like has the incumbent party made recent gains in congress, or had an easy nomination.
And yet others may cancel each other out, as Lichtman says questions of candidate charisma do this year, as two deeply unpopular candidates face off.
“Obviously Hilary Clinton does not fill that bill so that counts against the party in power.”
But he says Trump loses out on the potential advantage from that question, because while he’s considered powerfully charismatic to his supporters, the effect is not felt widely by the electorate.
See the 13 keys to victory. Blue lines are “true,” favouring the Democrats, red lines are “false,” favouring Republicans.
- 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.