Predicting 2020 Presidential Election

As Abraham Lincoln once said: “Elections belong to the people.” Ever since it became clear that Joe Biden would be taking on Donald Trump, there have been countless political analysts, news critics, and journalists trying to predict who will win the election. Personally, the way elections have been portrayed in the media has been unnerving to witness. From news stations like NBC to CNN to even Fox News, election predictions have become nonstop. 

The truth is that 2020 has been such an unusual and unprecedented year; it has been hard to wrap my head around it all. From the unprofessionalism of the first presidential debate to the fly that stole the show in the vice-presidential debate, the 2020 election has been one long continuation of divisiveness and disorder. However, just because the election has been difficult to follow, that doesn’t mean we can’t predict an outcome, at least that’s what American University professor and historian Allan Lichtman believes.

Professor Lichtman has made headlines all over the country for his intricate method of predicting the election. In 1981, Mr. Lichtman met famous Russian seismologist and geologist, Vladimir Keilis-Borok. Together, they developed a presidential prediction model, called “The Keys To The White House,” that contained a total of 120 years worth of U.S. election history. 

Over the past four decades, Lichtman’s prediction model has worked wonders as he has correctly guessed each presidential election victor from 

Reagan to Trump. Specifically, Lichtman and Keilis-Borok framed their logic around the theory that “stability” meant that there would be no party change and “earthquake” meant that the incumbent party would fall apart and a new one would emerge victorious. This past August, Professor Lichtman organized a video montage with the New York Times where he explains how he came up with his method of predicting presidential elections. 

Specifically, what fascinates me about Lichtman’s presidential prediction model is that it has thirteen different conditions, or “keys,” that each presidential nominee is assessed by. In the video, Lichtman explains that an answer of “true” to more than half of the keys means that the political party in control of the Oval Office remains the same. 

However, an answer of “false” means that there is evidence towards a possible political earthquake. These thirteen keys range from “Strong Short Term Economy” to “Major Policy Change” to even “No Social Unrest.” After going through each key, Lichtman’s presidential model predicted that Biden would win the presidential election after accumulating 7 keys to Trump’s 6. 

What hurt Trump the most are the keys relating to the economy, scandals, and social unrest. However, Professor Lichtman was careful not to get too emotional about his prediction. As he said, “I’m a Democrat and the toughest thing about being a forecast is to keep your own politics out of it.” So will Professor Lichtman be right again or will his model suffer a shocking defeat? 

After researching Professor Lichtman’s model, I believe that it is fundamentally sound but does have a few parts that are debatable. One problem I have with this model is that there are keys that are subjective. The last two of Lictman’s key’s “Charismatic Incumbent” and “Uncharismatic Challenger” can be argued depending on what your political opinion is. In some cases having to judge a person’s character and demeanor may be difficult. 

As we head into the final stretch before Nov. 3, it is important to remind ourselves the importance of voting in this election. With so much at stake from civil rights to the environment to even our sanity, we need to ask ourselves: What is the society that we want to live in for the future?” While Professor Allan Lichtman believes that Biden will win the 2020 election, the power still remains in our hands to help make that outcome a reality.