The Washington Post continues to credit American University professor Allan J. Lichtman with being one of the few political prognosticators to call the 2016 president election for Donald Trump.
On October 27, Post reporter Peter W. Stevenson wrote:
Last month, the man who’s tried to turn vote prediction into a science predicted a Trump win.
Allan J. Lichtman, distinguished professor of history at American University, said Democrats would not be able to hold on to the White House.
In the intervening weeks, the campaign was rocked by a series of events. The release of the Access Hollywood tape obtained by The Washington Post was followed by accusations from a growing list of women of various improprieties on Trump’s part, ranging from verbal abuse and harassment to outright sexual assault. Fix founder Chris Cillizza named Trump the winner of the inauspicious “Worst Week in Washington” award for four weeks running. At the same time, WikiLeaks released internal Clinton campaign emails, and the U.S. government flatly accused the Kremlin of being involved. And let’s not forget those presidential debates.
So plenty has changed. But one thing hasn’t: Lichtman, author of “Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016,” is sticking with his prediction of a Trump victory.
If you aren’t familiar with his somewhat unique prediction system, here are the basics: The keys to the White House, he says, are a set of 13 true/false statements. If six of them are false, the incumbent party loses the presidency. His system has correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote in every U.S. presidential election since 1984.
In a book review in Sunday’s Outlook section, Post columnist Carlos Lozada said:
Allan J. Lichtman, the American University historian who in September predicted Donald Trump’s electoral victory (earning a “Professor — Congrats — good call” note from the candidate) is issuing another bold forecast: Trump will be impeached. Unlike his election pick, which was based on a systematic evaluation of 13 political indicators that have helped Lichtman call every presidential contest since 1984, the professor’s views on impeachment are more impressionistic. He bases his conclusion on Trump’s questionable practices throughout his real estate and entertainment career, his early overreach in office, the conflicts between his financial interests and public obligations, and his soft spot for verifiable falsehoods.
Two facts about Lichtman’s predictions that the Post and other media outlets have found convenient to ignore:
Lichtman’s 13 keys to the presidency predict who will win the popular vote, not the electoral college vote.
The key that Lichtman used to call the 2016 popular vote for Trump says if a third party candidate gets five percent of the popular vote, the incumbent party will lose the popular vote. Lichtman predicted that Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson would get at least five percent of the vote. Lichtman was wrong. Johnson got 3.3 percent of the popular vote.
After making that mistake with the third party key, Litchman concluded that Trump would win the popular vote and that was how he called the election. If he had picked the third party key correctly, he would have concluded that Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote, which she did by almost three million votes.
So Lichtman’s “Keys to the White House” prediction that Donald Trump would win the popular vote was the result of his mistake on the third party key.
Now Lichtman’s mistaken “Trump will win the popular vote” prediction has given way to Lozada and others claiming that Lichtman’s 13 keys correctly predicted Trump’s “electoral victory”—suggesting he’s a brilliant prognosticator so readers also should pay attention to Lichtman’s new book, The Case for Impeachment and his prediction that President Trump will not finish his first term as President. That’s more a guess than a prediction, but his guesses may be as good as his predictions.
Five U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016, won the electoral college vote but lost the popular vote. In 2000, Lichtman’s Keys correctly predicted Democratic candidate Al Gore would win the popular vote but George W. Bush then won the electoral vote and the election. In 2016 Lichtman’s keys incorrectly predicted Donald Trump would win the popular vote but Trump won the electoral vote and the election.