Historian Allan Lichtman, who correctly called the winner of the popular vote in each election between 1984 and 2012, told The New York Times Wednesday his “Keys to the White House” metric points toward a win for the Democrat and Trump becoming the first one-term president since George H.W. Bush.
“Voters vote pragmatically according to how well the party holding the White House has governed the country,” explained Lichtman.
The “Keys” consist of 13 true or false questions. A “true” answer earns a point for the incumbent, while a “false” answer earns a point for the challenger. For example, Trump receives a point for not having to face a serious primary challenger, while the Republican Party losing House seats in 2018 gives Biden a point.
Biden earns two points because there is no “strong short-term economy,” thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, while the “long-term economy” key also favors Biden due to the pandemic-induced drop in GDP.
Trump received a point for “major changes to national policy,” while Biden earns a point due to the going “social unrest” and another point for a false answer to the question, “The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.”
Trump earns a point for “no major military failures abroad,” while Biden gets a point for no “major successes” by U.S. forces under the president.
The penultimate key asks whether the incumbent is “charismatic.” Lichtman told the Times that although Trump is a “great showman,” he has a narrow base of support, a point for Biden.
At the same time, Lichtman said that while Biden is “decent and empathetic,” he is also “uncharismatic,” giving Trump the final point.
Lichtman’s count awards six keys to Trump and seven to Biden, though he added that does not mean Americans should stay home on Election Day.
“There are forces at play outside the Keys — voter suppression, Russian meddling — It’s up to you the voter to decide the future of our democracy, so get out and vote — vote in person or vote by mail,” he said. “As Abraham Lincoln said, the best way to predict the future is to choose it.”