College Professor's System Has Picked Presidential Winners Since 1984 and He's Made His 2016 Choice

Professor Allan Lichtman has a system called ‘The 13 Keys To The White House’ he formulated looking at every presidential election between 1860 and 1980. Since that time he has accurately predicted the winner in every presidential election.


Lichtman says based on the different keys, Donald Trump will win the presidential election in 2016.

Here are the keys in question:

  1. 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.
  2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.
  3. Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
  4. Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.
  5. Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
  6. Long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
  7. Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.
  8. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.
  9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
  10. Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
  11. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.
  12. Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
  13. Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

He did say 2016 was the hardest to predict. Part of he said, was the phenomenon of Trump:

Donald Trump has made this the most difficult election to assess since 1984. We have never before seen a candidate like Donald Trump, and Donald Trump may well break patterns of history that have held since 1860.

We’ve never before seen a candidate who’s spent his life enriching himself at the expense of others. He’s the first candidate in our history to be a serial fabricator, making up things as he goes along. Even when he tells the truth, such as, “Barack Obama really was born in the U.S.,” he adds two lines, that Hillary Clinton started the birther movement, and that he finished it, even though when Barack Obama put out his birth certificate, he didn’t believe it.

Lichtman said if a candidate loses on 6 of the 13 keys, they are out and he says Democrats are up to 5.

Key 1 is the party mandate — how well they did in the midterms. They got crushed.

Key number 3 is, 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.


He believes the third party key will do it for Trump as Johnson is pulling more than 5% of the vote in most polls and is taking more from Hillary than Trump.

If I am skeptical of anything it is that elections in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2008 weren’t all that hard to predict. In fact those were easy. 2004 and 2012 were almost mirror images in how they came about. The only wildcard is 2000.

We shall see.



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