Allan J. Lichtman on Predicting Presidential Elections

By Kory Calhoun| March 28, 2019

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Presidential elections are always a seismic event that has the nation on the edge of its seats. Everyone has their preference as to their party and who they would like to represent the country as our leader. Asking the average Joe “who do you think will win the race?”, there will be an unsure answer. But unlike them, Allan J. Lichtman has successfully predicted the winners of each presidential election the past 30 years.

On Tuesday, March 27th, the WISH team held an event on Capitol Hill where guest speaker Allan J. Lichtman spoke on his strategy and experience successfully predicting who has won presidential elections dating back to the Ronald Reagan. He says all he successfully has done every four years was make half the country very mad at him.

“I think last year when I predicted Donald Trump’s victory, I made the country really, really mad at me,” Allan said. “The truth is, if you want to be a forecaster, you have to know history but that’s not it. You must know politics, but that’s not it. You must follow current affairs, but that’s not it. The hardest thing in being a forecaster is putting your own feelings and emotions to the side and being entirely objective.”

Keep in mind that his work is just predictions, not endorsements. It is difficult to convince people of that when you’re known for saying someone will win such and such because they assume that was your preference from the get-go. According to Allan, if we in fact predicted on our own preferences, we would be wrong half the time and would be worthless as far as a forecaster of anything. As a historian, what they deal with more often is deal with the original or primary source material. That is kind of the unique training and profession of the historian.

In attendance for the event was Cal State-Northridge Senior, Raymond Acevedo. He shared his thoughts on what intrigued him the most about Allan Lichtman’s speech.

“The most interesting thing was the 13 keys to the White House and how it pays no attention to media coverage, polling, campaigning, etc,” Raymond said. “Instead of the more popular ways of prediction, he focuses on things like long term economy, social unrest, foreign/ military success and failure, and other things.”

In his “too soon to tell” predictions, he has Democratic party representative Jay Inslee as his pick for president. It is interesting because he is polling at less than 1% and has no national name recognition. But his system does not care about that. Inslee’s position in the polling, in fact, is tailor-made for him to win according to Allan’s method and calculation toward his predictions. He mentions that climate change is a major policy area that is becoming more prominent on the national agenda, to where even Republican members of the House are bringing up legislation.

“We know Democrats are looking for the ‘electable’ candidate, someone who can beat out Donald Trump, and that is why Joe Biden is out ahead,” Allan said. “What do all the electable candidates have in common? They all lost.”
“There have only been three Democrats in the last 50 years to win the election: Barrack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. The one thing all these candidates have in common – no one heard of them. They came out of nowhere!”

His precise calculation and reasoning on how he picks his presidential winner goes deeper than just the current polling status. Jimmy Carter was introduced in the national light a year before the 1976 election and shocked the Republican party by becoming the 39th president in U.S. history. The truth is, you don’t know in advance who is electable. His advice is to forget about electability, vote for the candidate you believe.

“I think what I took from the speaker is that we shouldn’t base off our opinions on what the mainstream media is telling us or what the polling is showing,” Raymond said. “As we saw in the 2016 election, that didn’t work out. Everyone thought Hillary Clinton had it in the bag, but she lost. So instead we need to utilize a wider perspective.”

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