Meet the man who predicted Trump’s win in September

Professor Allan Lichtman has been predicting presidential outcomes correctly for the last 32 years.

Meryl D'Souza November 9, 2016

Stop adjusting your television, laptop, desktop and phone screens, stop pinching yourself to wake up, stop wishing all this is a dream. It’s actually happened. Donald Trump – a man who was ranked the sixth most dangerous risk facing the world – is now the President of the United States of America.

The animated comedy TV series, The Simpsons, disconcertingly predicted Trump’s victory way back in 2000. Alarmingly, the episode titled Bart to the future even gave us a look into (one of) the calamities following a Trump Presidency. See here:

Of course, that episode was just satire as the show’s creator Matt Groening told The Guardian this October. It wasn’t a premonition or anything. The creators were just looking for “the most absurd placeholder joke name” they could think of. Unlike The Simpsons though, one man doesn’t just guess.

For 32 years, professor Allan Lichtman has correctly predicted every American presidential race outcome. The history professor at American University, Washington, doesn’t make these predictions based on the alignment of the planets or watching stars. Instead, he uses his own concoction of true or false statements – which he calls the “13 keys to the White House” – to establish his predicted winner. 

Lichtman first established the keys in 1981 and claims they have been accurate since the 1984 presidential elections. Usually, they keys identify the winning president years ahead of time. For instance, for the 2012 elections he had predicted the winner way back in 2010.

In an interview with the Washington Post in May, Lichtman compared predicting American presidential elections to predicting earthquakes and said that he invented the 13 keys after reconceptualising candidates as “party holding the White House vs. the challenging party”.

He associated a holding party win with stability and a holding party loss with an earthquake. His theory was that everyone – from scholars to pundits – predicting the elections were wrong. He noted that the real key was not the candidates, issues, debates or ads but the performance of the party holding the White House.

He worked on the principle that if the party holding the White House did a good job, the people would give them four more years. If not, they’d cry for change. Working with that theory, he devised his 13 keys.

The keys had just the one decision rule: If six or more of the 13 keys went against the party in power, that is, the answers to the questions were false, the party in power lost. If fewer than six keys were false, the party in power won.

Here are the keys – explained in depth in Lichtman’s book “Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016” – as articulated by the Post:

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.

There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.

The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.

Third party
There is no significant third party or independent campaign.

Short-term economy
The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.

Long-term economy
Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.

Policy change
The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.

Social unrest
There is no sustained social unrest during the term.

The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.

Foreign/military failure
The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.

Foreign/military success
The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs. 

Incumbent charisma
The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. 

Challenger charisma
The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

While not scientific, it's hard to argue with a theory that's been correct for over 30 years. Perhaps you could use this man’s expertise to make some money from the next election. According to Coral Betting, here’s how much you could have made on a three-way gamble that, just a few months ago, would have been utterly unthinkable.