by user Mjhasley

Since the beginning of this election cycle, I’ve believed that the Democrats will win the election of 2008, which makes the primary season so important, because whoever becomes the nominee, is certain to become president.

So why do I think this? In 1998, I found a book, the Keys to the White House written by Allan J. Lichtman, Professor of History at American University. The book, as he puts it, the Keys:

are a historically-based prediction system that retrospectively account for the popular-vote winners of every American presidential election from 1860 to 1980 and prospectively forecast well ahead of time the winners of every presidential election from 1984 through 2004. The Keys give specificity to the theory that that presidential election results turn primarily on the performance of the party controlling the White House and that politics as usual by the challenging candidate will have no impact on results. The Keys include no polling data and consider a much wider range of performance indicators than economic concerns.

Obviously, his book could retroactively predict the past. What author in his right mind would create a method of prediction where it didn't have 20/20 hindsight. So the challenge is, can it predict the future. It easily did from 1980 to 2000. Then, 2000 happened. Licthman predicted that Al Gore would win. Was his theory flawed?

No. I have the 1996 version, and on page 2, it says, the keys "correlate with the popular balloting, not with the votes of the individual states." Meaning, his system counts the popular vote, which Al Gore won, not the Electoral College, which is what decides the Presidency, and how Bush became President. In fact, he mentions the previous two electoral mistakes in the same paragraph.

A strong vindication of this system.

So, what are the keys:

KEY 1 (Party Mandate): After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than it did after the previous midterm elections.

KEY 2 (Contest): There is no serious contest for the incumbent-party nomination.

KEY 3 (Incumbency): The incumbent-party candidate is the sitting president.

KEY 4 (Third party): There is no significant third-party or independent campaign.

KEY 5 (Short-term economy): The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.

KEY 6 (Long-term economy): Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.

KEY 7 (Policy change): The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.

KEY 8 (Social unrest): There is no sustained social unrest during the term.

KEY 9 (Scandal): The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.

KEY 10 (Foreign/military failure): The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.

KEY 11 (Foreign/military success): The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.

KEY 12 (Incumbent charisma): The incumbent-party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.

KEY 13 (Challenger charisma): The challenging-party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

Next, how do the Republicans stand up in 2008? Here is Lichtman’s prediction as of 2005, prior to the mid-term elections. And, 6 falses mean the Republicans will lose the election:


Now it’s 2007. There are now two definite falses and three likely falses remaining since Bush won’t be President and it’s unlikely that Cheney will be and the Republicans lost the House in 2006.

Of the 3 likely falses, I think the charisma candidate will remain false, even with Fred Thompson, and there will be no major policy change. I think the Republicans will pick up a True with the nomination as I don’t think it will be hard fought, just long.

That makes 4 falses. I think 3 of the 4 trues will remain true: no third party, no social unrest, the scandals have been minor. The last True is the charisma of the Democratic candidate. Barack Obama, more than Hillary could turn that to a false for the Republicans.

So that’s 4 falses and 1 possible false.

Of the 4 uncertains that Lichtman states, it’s tough to imagine the Republicans picking up all 4. First, the short term economy will probably help the Republicans, but the long term won’t.

So that’s 5 falses and 1 possible false.

Foreign or military successes and failures are the last two. First, I don’t think Iraq will be regarded as a success by 2008. If it ever is, it won’t be viewed that way for 10 years or more.

That makes 6 falses and 1 possible false.

Avoiding a Foreign policy failure: Again, Iraq, isn’t in the equation for the success key, it will be viewed as a failure.

7 falses and 1 more possible false.

Part of this is perception also. At least in my judgment. There may be many successes in Iraq by 2008, but I think the American public will still view Iraq as a failure. Furthermore, there is the chance of further failure.

Again, this is based on history and trends. It’s been hard for there to be 12 years of one rule also, it has hardly happened since the presidency has been term-limited. FDR and Truman don’t count since term limits didn’t apply to them. So you had 8 years of Ike, 6 years of Kennedy and LBJ, 8 years of Nixon/Ford, 4 years of Carter, 12 years of Reagan/Bush, and 8 years of Clinton.

My blog


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