Dr. Allan Lichtman has correctly predicted every presidential election of the last 32 years. And he does it months in advance. The distinguished professor of history at American University has been right eight elections in a row. And he doesn’t use polling, demographics, or sophisticated analyses.
So how does he do it and what does the formula say for 2016? Lichtman makes his predictions on the basis of 13 true/false statements that determine the outcome every time. Here’s how it works. If more than half the statements are true, the incumbent party wins the White House; if more than half are false, the opposing party wins. The data is in. The winner of the 2016 election will be . . .
Let’s look at each statement and rate them true/false, thus determining the 2016 presidential winner.
1. Party mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent picked up seats in the most recent midterm elections. (False)
2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination. (True)
3. Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president. (False)
4. Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign. (True)
5. Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign. (True)
6. Long-term economy: Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms. (False)
7. Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy. (True)
8. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term. (False)
9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by scandal. (False)
10. Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs. (False)
11. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs. (True)
12. Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. (False)
13. Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero. (False)
So how does this all stack up? Though two or three of the statements are open for some debate – not much debate – the formula points toward a fairly clear winner. Here’s the score.
True – 5
False – 8
According to this formula, Donald Trump will win. Admittedly, this is a different kind of election, as Trump is a different kind of candidate. But the formula correctly predicted the following winners: Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Will it be right again? Donald J. Trump certainly hopes so.