American University Professor Allan Lichtman was one of the few to correctly predict the victory of now-President Donald Trump in 2016, continuing Lichtman's uninterrupted streak of correctly predicting every election since 1984 using a system he calls "The 13 Keys to the White House."
Now, in a video op-ed for the New York Times, Lichtman predicts a win for Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Lichtman's prediction uses 13 true or false evaluators, called "keys," if more than six of the 13 keys are false, the incumbent party is predicted to lose the White House.
Lichtman said of his prediction:
"The keys predict that Trump will lose the White House."
But the prediction doesn't mean the race will be a landslide: Only seven of the keys are false.
The keys working against Trump are social unrest, scandal, success abroad, the loss of seats in Congress during the midterm elections, a lack of broad charisma, short-term economic impact, and long-term economic impact.
In Trump's advantage, Lichtman cites the lack of a contest for Trump's renomination, no resignation from the White House, no serious third-party challenge, no major foreign policy failures (though Lichtman acknowledges that there have been "very difficult moments"), an overhaul of Obama-era policies, and perceptions that Biden is uncharismatic.
While some of the verdicts on the keys—like the presence of social unrest and scandal—are clear cut, others are more debatable, such as Lichtman's assertion that Donald Trump lacks "charisma":
"Donald Trump is a great showman, but he only appeals to a narrow slice of the American people, and as a result: false."
Though Lichtman's past predictions have all been correct, he cautions that his latest forecast is no reason for complacence:
"Don't just take my word for it. There are forces at play outside the keys: voter suppression, Russian meddling. It's up to you, the voter, to decide the future of our democracy. So get out and vote. Vote in person. Vote by mail."
Some were cautiously optimistic about the professor's claims.
From his lips to God's ears.
— DDW (@JustWondering46) August 5, 2020
This guy called 9 elections correctly. Sounds impressive...but if we had 500 people making random predictions each year about 1 of them would have such a track record. The question is whether it will do so well in the future! https://t.co/gnjGv8Ypi0
— C. Kirabo Jackson (@KiraboJackson) August 6, 2020
Please don't break your record now! https://t.co/I5pbmDzJ17
— Nancy Fantetti (@Nfantetti) August 6, 2020
still have to fight like we will lose as Trump and Barr's dirty tricks will be in full play https://t.co/Uovocebxpw
— jbrown1187 (@jbrown11871) August 6, 2020
Hell yeah, but it's 2020 and everything has gone wrong!
— Andy Woolf (@AndrewWolfe2012) August 5, 2020
Some claim that Lichtman incorrectly predicted the 2016 election because he supposedly predicted Trump would win the popular vote, but Lichtman stopped predictions of the popular vote after the debacle of the 2000 election.
.@NateSilver538, who was so wrong about 2016, misrepresents my 2016 prediction. In my 2016 Washington Post interview, I clearly predicted that Trump would win the presidency. I said nothing about the popular vote. I no longer predict the popular vote. https://t.co/UhwWxPdUGS
— Allan Lichtman (@AllanLichtman) August 5, 2020
Some are still skeptical.
I will say I believe this time you will be incorrect. Good luck to us both. Thank you for your awesome inside look at things.
— The Imp Caiman (@TheImpCaiman) August 6, 2020
Some of your keys are quite subjective- “charismatic" candidates and policy successes/failures. Who decides these and on what basis?
— Danny F (@quiche192) August 5, 2020
I always respect your thoughts on this! BUT I notice you mentioned Trump only appeals to a “narrow" set of ppl. This is where I think you actually might be wrong. I live in the Midwest and I can guarantee it is not narrow.
— Faith Brown (@travelingwfaith) August 6, 2020
The only certainty for November is that nothing is certain.