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I've been following American University Professor Allan Lichtman ever since I heard about the 13-key system he came up with in the 1980s for accurately predicting the outcome of presidential elections. Not only does his system correctly predict all the elections from 1860 to 1980, it has also accurately forecast all the elections that have happened since it was devised. (It even predicted Al Gore's popular-vote victory in 2000).

The system is based on 13 fundamentals that Lichtman claims invariably determine the outcome of presidential elections.

These include:

Did the incumbent party suffer major losses in the mid-term elections?

Is the current party candidate the incumbent?

Does he/she face a primary challenge?

Is there a serious third-party candidate?

Is the economy in recession during election year?

Has there been long-term economic growth over the course of the first term?

Is there major social unrest in the country?

Has the incumbent party been involved in a major scandal?

Has the party in the White House implemented major policy change?

Has the party suffered a serious foreign policy failure?

Has the party experienced a major foreign policy success?

Is the incumbent party candidate charismatic or a national hero?

Is the challenger charismatic or a national hero?

Lichtman claims that if the answer to six or more of these questions is No, then the incumbent party loses. If five or fewer are false, the incumbent party wins.

Lichtman counted only three keys against Obama: the long-term economy, the mid-term elections and charisma (which he gave to Obama in '08 but took away from him in '12).

Now, obviously, the answers to some of those questions are rather subjective (what constitutes "charisma"? how does one define a "major" scandal? etc.), and open to interpretation, but it seems to have worked pretty well for Lichtman over the years.

And here he is on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell in the summer of 2011, confidently predicting Obama's re-election more than a year before it happened.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Summer of 2001? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight

    Lichtman may be good, but I doubt he's that good.  :)

  •  Well isn't that something! I'll have to try to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharon Wraight, wwjjd

    remember this for '16.

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 10:11:45 PM PST

  •  2016, let's see... (0+ / 0-)

    True or likely (in my guess!):
    1)    Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign. [Unless GOP-centrists divorce Teasists.]
    2)    Short term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
    3)    Long term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
    4)    Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy. [Obamacare counts, whatever it's problems.]
    5)    Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
    6)    Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs. [OBL still dead. Iraq and Afg wars over, for USA?]

    False or not likely:
    1)    Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.  [We're Democrats. ;-) ]
    2)    Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
    3)    Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs. [TClouds on horizon...]

    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)    Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term. [Hard call -- Teaists could go berserk, OWS could pick up, etc.]
    3)    Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. [this refers to the new candidate, not Obama?] [For BO, among us, yes, altho even some DLC-ists aren't sure; def not among GOP.]
    4)    Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.  

    When five or fewer statements are false, the incumbent party wins; when six or more are false, the challenging party wins.
    I count only three that are likely False, with four Uncertain. To the extent one believes in Lichtman's model, things look good.

    I find all such models mildly interesting but not something I'd bet on. There are tens of thousands of possible indicators (home-game wins of the Redskins, price of gasoline, Misery Index, sales of Halloween masks, various economic voting-models (Ray Fair et al.), etc., many of which will seem to "post-dict" past elections, and a some current ones. Then, something unexpected will crop up...

  •  His model works perfectly (0+ / 0-)

    Until it doesn't. He would have been wrong in 2000 if it wasn't for the supreme court. I heard about some model from U of Co  that had never failed that predicted Romney would win so perfection only lasts so long.

  •  Allan Lichtman and Nate Silver both deserve props (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Grandma Susie

    "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

    by LaurenMonica on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:52:48 AM PST

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