Most election forecasts rely heavily on polling data, but that’s not the case for “The Key to the White House” method developed by American University history professor Allan Lichtman.
According to Lichtman, debates, advertising, endorsements and even political platforms do not have much influence on who wins the presidency.
Lichtman said the winner is largely determined by whether the populace is satisfied with how the president’s party has performed. In this case, the Democrats.
Lichtman has correctly predicted the winner of the presidential race since 1984. This year, he predicts Donald Trump will win.
Morning Shift talked to Lichtman about how “The Keys” work and whether, due to the unprecedented candidacy of Donald Trump, this could be the year his system for forecasting the election could finally break down.
Q: Why have “The Keys” model predicted Donald Trump given everything that’s been going on for the last week?
A: Well, The Keys don’t reflect any of that. They’re not based on the day-to-day events of the campaign. The keys are based on historical analysis of every presidential election going all the way to the election of Lincoln in 1860, and have perspectively called all subsequent elections from 1984 to 2012. And the way they work is by measuring the strengths and performance of the party holding the White House, based on the proposition that elections are primarily judgments on governance of the party in the White House. “Do you want to give them four more years or not?”
We don’t vote according to the speeches, the debates, the advertising, the tricks. The party doesn’t determine it, issues don’t determine it, personalities don’t determine it. But rather the voter is pragmatic and decides, “Do we want to give the party that now controls the presidency four more years? Have they performed well enough or not?”
Q: You said endorsements and platforms don’t matter. But what about polling? On Tuesday, we talked with FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver who said that Hillary Clinton’s chance of winning has increased. Do the keys take polling into account in any way?
A: No. In fact, The Keys often go against polling. In 1988, I predicted George H.W. Bush’s victory when he was trailing Mike Dukakis by 18 points in the polls. I said, “Forget the polls, forget the pundits. Based on history, George Bush is running on the Ronald Reagan second term record – and he’s going to win.”
But this year I’ve put a huge qualification in. I’m not a hedger typically. And what you’re seeing from Nate Silver and others is a validation of that qualification. Donald Trump is such a uniquely perceived dangerous candidate that he’s capable of shattering the pattern of history. We’ve never seen a candidate in modern history with no history of public service. Trump also has a record of enriching himself through bankruptcies, through Trump University, through tax deductions, at the expense of others. He’s threatened to jail his opponent Hillary Clinton if he wins. He’s said one of a dozen things – never mind the 2005 video released by the Washington Post – that would have taken any other candidate out of a race.
Q: Based on what you’ve listed on Trump. Hedging aside, is there any possibility within the next week that you would change your prediction?
A: It’s always possible. I never have again. But this is the most puzzling and disturbing election in U.S. history. So there are a couple of keys that could flip in favor of the Democrats. I won’t change it based on the polls. But I will say the polls indicate my qualifications on picking Trump.