From ancient times people have sought out those who claim they can predict the future, from the ancient haruspices digging around in sheep’s intestines to predict the tides of battle to the more statistical, contemporary practice of renting Octopuses Predicting the score of soccer matches. But after a particular unexpected twist in 2016, people are left in doubt as to whether a modern oracle can throw enough balls to guess who will be the next President of the United States.
Fortunately, there is still one man whose unconventional forecasting methods mess things up and make the competition tremble in their boots. That man is the political historian Allan Lichtman. For the past forty years he has been able to successfully predict every single US presidential election. (He selected Al Gore in 2000, but only technically misunderstood that having the most votes doesn̵
During his tenure at the International Institute for Earthquake Prediction Theory and Mathematical Geophysics of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Keilis-Borok pursued the holy grail, which is earthquake prediction. Unfortunately, like all others, his mathematical model could not systematically predict where the next great one would hit. Mother Nature is too capricious to be included in a few algorithms.
But do you know what is far less complicated than tectonic plates? Voters. In 1981, Keilis-Borok turned to Lichtman and suggested using his earthquake theories to predict the US presidential election. Together, the two developed a model that even a stable genius could remember. It’s just 13 true / false queries that Lichtman calls the 13 keys to the White House. If the majority is true, the incumbent party stays in the White House; If wrong, it’s time to make America different again. These keys are:
- The incumbent party won seats during the midterm elections.
- There is no serious competition for the nomination of the incumbent party.
- The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
- There is no significant third party or independent party campaign.
- The short term economy is strong.
- Economic growth in this term was as good as in the two previous terms.
- The incumbent administration brings about major changes in national politics.
- There is no ongoing social unrest during the tenure.
- The White House is not affected by a major scandal.
- The White House suffered no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
- The White House achieved great success in foreign or military affairs.
- The incumbent party candidate is charismatic.
- The challenging party candidate is not charismatic.