The American professor who has never got a US Presidential election wrong, spoke exclusively to The Sunday Guardian.

 

He’s the astrologer for the US Presidents. Meet Professor Allan Lichtman of the American University in Washington DC. He’s a historian by profession, but predicts the future of American Presidents. He’s been doing it since the days of President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s and never got it wrong. So correct are his readings into US Presidents’ tenures that he can even predict impeachment. He did it for President Donald Trump and it happened. A Democrat by political affiliation, Prof Lichtman predicted Trump’s victory in 2016, but his 13 wonder keys, which hold the future of every incoming US President, are not signalling the same for the incumbent President at the White House.

What would be for Trump in 2020? Not the same as in 2016, say the keys of Prof Lichtman. For this very prediction, at least three months before the 3 November polls, by someone who has never gone wrong since 1984, has made Prof Lichtman the US media’s most hunted profile since August.

Professor Lichtman spoke exclusively to The Sunday Guardian, perhaps the first Indian media to have interviewed to get the suspense of the “13 keys” decoded. Over the past four decades, his system has accurately called presidential victors, from Ronald Reagan in 1984 to Donald Trump in 2016. “This time it’s not Mr Trump,” he told The Sunday Guardian. Excerpts:

Q: In 2016, you predicted for Donald Trump, this time you are not for him, your comments on will he, won’t he or will he pull up in the last hours as in 2016?

A: At the end of 2019, although I had not yet made a prediction, Trump was down four keys, two short of a predicting defeat. Since then, he has lost three additional keys, for a total of seven negative keys, one more than is necessary to predict his defeat. The three additional keys that Trump lost in 2020 are: short term economy, long-term economy, and social unrest. Never before in the history of the United States has the party holding the White House suffered such a sudden, dramatic reversal of fortune in just a few months. These keys represent the big picture of presidential politics and are not likely to change prior to November. The prediction is firm.”

Q: What is the key to decode “your 13 keys”? Please simplify that for readers.

A: My system is not based on the polls but gauges the strength and performance of the party holding the White House. It ignores the polls, the pundits, or the day-to-day events of the campaign. The basic insight behind the keys is that presidential elections are votes up or down on the strength and performance of the party holding the White House. Governing, not campaigning, counts in presidential contests. Unlike most prediction systems, the keys model relies on an index rather than a regression-based method. The keys are 13 diagnostic questions that are stated as propositions that favour re-election of the incumbent party. When five or fewer of these propositions are false (i.e., turned against the party holding the White House), that party wins another term in office. When six or more are false, the challenging party wins.

Q: What is going against President Trump this time? Is it bad stars as astrologers see or are real facts and opinion going to affect his prospects this time?

A: Trump’s own failures to deal with the pandemic and the cries for social and racial justice cost him the three additional keys outlined above that are responsible for predicting his defeat. He acknowledged my prediction of his victory in 2016. He wrote me a note on the copy of the September 23, 2016 Washington Post interview in which I predicted his win. The note said, “Professor—Congrats—good call” and was signed Donald J. Trump. However, he did not understand the deeper meaning of the keys, that it is governing, not campaigning, that counts in presidential elections. As a result he failed to deal substantively with the challenges of 2020, but reverted to his 2016 playbook and thought he could talk his way out of them. It didn’t work.

Q: Any anecdotal references and memories linked to your predictions on the US presidential elections?

A: In 1982, after I published my prediction of a Ronald Reagan victory in 1984, I was invited to the White House by Lee Atwater, the President’s political director. After spending the day there he looked me in the eye and asked, “What would happen if Ronald Regan didn’t run again in 1984?” I told him that the Republicans would go from 3 keys down and a predicted win to 6 keys down and a predicted defeat, because they would lose the internal party contest key, the incumbency key, and the incumbent charisma key. Atwater looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you so much, Professor Lichtman,” and the rest is history.

In 1991, after the Gulf War, George H.W. Bush’s approval rating hit a record 90 per cent. No prominent Democrat wanted to take him on in the election of 1992. However, I wrote at the time that based on the keys, Bush would be a one-term President. None of the big shots listened. But, I got a call from Gay Goss, the special assistant to Governor Bill Clinton in Arkansas. She asked if I was serious that Bush could be beaten in 1992. I said that I was serious and sent Clinton a copy of my book and a memo—and the rest is history.

Q: How you get your predictions right?  Do you feel that it may go wrong?

A: I stand by my prediction. However, two things outside the realm of any prediction model worry me this year. One is the suppression of the vote, so we won’t have a free and fair election. The other is Russian intervention, which Trump will again welcome and exploit.