Hillary Clinton may still be ahead in most national polls, but at least one expert remains convinced that Donald Trump will be our next president.
American University Professor Allen J. Lichtman, who has accurately predicted the winner of every presidential election since 1984, first forecast a victory for the GOP nominee during an interview with the Washington Post last month. Granted, this was before the release of the now-infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, followed by mounting allegations of sexual misconduct, which Trump has attempted to counter with claims that the election is rigged and that the media is conspiring against him. Meanwhile, the tense presidential debates concluded with the suggestion from Trump that he might not accept the outcome of the election if he is not the winner.
Despite all this, however, Lichtman has not wavered from his prediction.
“By the narrowest of possible margins, the keys still point to a Trump victory,” he told the Post this week.
As Lichtman noted in this latest interview, he is not a “psychic,” nor does he “look into a crystal ball.” Rather, his projections are based on a unique system that relies on 13 True/False questions, or “keys,” to evaluate the strength of the incumbent party.
“An answer of True on these True/False questions always favors the reelection of the party in power,” Lichtman explained. “And if six or more of the 13 keys are False, the party in power, the party holding the White House, is the predicted loser — any six or more.”
Until last month, he said, the Democratic Party only had five keys against it. The final key that led Lichtman to make his prediction that Trump will win was “the third-party key, and that is based on an assessment that you would expect the third-party candidate, in this case the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, to get 5 percent or more of the vote.”
While “severe and unprecedented,” Lichtman said that the problems created for Trump by the “Access Hollywood” tape and subsequent sexual assault claims did not ultimately change any of the keys.
Still, he provided “two major qualifications” to his projection, noting that “I’m not a hedger, and I’ve never qualified before, in 30 years of predictions.”
The first qualification is that, according to Lichtman’s system, “it takes six keys to count the party in power out, and they have exactly six keys,” one of which requires that at least 5 percent of the popular vote go to Gary Johnson.
“He could slip below that, which would shift the prediction,” Lichtman said.
The other qualification is Trump himself.
“We have never seen someone who is broadly regarded as a history-shattering, precedent-making, dangerous candidate who could change the patterns of history that have prevailed since the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860,” Lichtman said.
Though his system, which was developed by studying every presidential election between 1960 and 1980, has proven to be a reliable indicator of election outcomes for the past 20 years, Lichtman admitted that “this election has the potential to shatter the normal boundaries of American politics and reset everything—including, perhaps, reset the keys to the White House.”