Trump vs Biden: the inventor of the method of the 13 keys to reach the White House that “always” hits the winner | The NY Journal
Historian Allan Lichtman and Russian seismologist Vladimir Keilis-Borok developed a method that has guessed the outcome of the White House race since 1984. What does it say this time?
In 1981, historian Allan Lichtman met a Russian earthquake expert at the California Institute of Technology who made an unexpected proposal.
Vlaidmir Keilis-Borok had dedicated his career in the Soviet Union to developing a method that would allow anticipating when an earthquake was going to occur and wanted to test its validity also to successfully forecast the outcome of electoral processes.
“In the USSR there were no elections and since I was an expert on the history of the US presidency, he suggested that we work together,” Lichtman recalls in conversation with BBC Mundo.
Together they would develop a prediction model for electoral results that has guessed who was going to be the winner in the presidential elections in the United States since the re-election of Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Historian and seismologist became a “strange couple” of researchers and began to look for a way to apply to the history of the race for the White House the pattern recognition techniques that Keilis-Borok had been developing in the field of geophysics. at the Moscow Earthquake Prediction Institute.
They began to retrospectively analyze the results of the presidential elections from 1860.
“The secret of our model was to reconceptualize the choices in geophysical terms, establishing two possible scenarios.
“We identify the first as a situation of stability, in which the party in the White House remains; in the second there is an earthquake and the party in power loses it, ”explains Lichtman.
Following the algorithmic reasoning with which Keilis-Borok was familiar and Lichtman’s knowledge of the United States past, they identified a number of determining keys in the result of the presidential race.
They reduced their initial 30 “keys” to 13, all in search of a pattern that would allow a reliable forecast.
And they ended up posing 13 conditions, one for each key.
When 6 or more of them do not occur, in the words of Lichtman, “we have a political earthquake.” In other words, the party in power loses the White House.
After his research, Lichtman concluded that what determines the electoral result is the “pragmatism” of voters in the United States.
“The decision, in the end, is about how the country has been governed, not about the campaign. The question is whether the party in power deserves 4 more years ”.
His method has proven so accurate that the New York Times did not hesitate to call Lichtman “the Nostradamus of the presidential election.”
Lichtman and Keilis-Borok predicted Reagan’s reelection before it was even known who his Democratic rival would be.
And in 2016, already without his Russian friend, who died in 2013, he was one of the few who predicted the triumph of Donald Trump.
Only in the tight 2000 election, when Republican candidate George W. Bush narrowly won out over Democrat Al Gore, did the model fail.
Gore got more votes than Bush, but the US electoral system ended up giving Bush the presidency.
That the popular vote and the Electoral College were not aligned “has not happened since 1888,” says Lichtman, who has since predicted who will be the president. In 2016 Trump was also the winner despite not being the most voted candidate.
Recall that Hillary Clinton got about 3 million more votes than Trump, but he won the Electoral College.
But what does the 13 Keys model say about Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joseph Biden’s race for the White House?
Better, let’s see how Lichtman himself assigns each of the keys this time.
1. The party in the White House won seats in the midterm elections.
False. Republicans lost in 2018 the legislative elections that always take place in the middle of the president’s term.
That key is for Biden.
Trump 0 – Biden 1
2. No rival challenges the president in the primary party in power.
True. No alternative candidate to Trump ran in the Republican primaries.
This is Trump.
Trump 1 – Biden 1
3. The president seeks reelection.
True. Trump seeks in these elections to revalidate the presidency he reached in 2016.
Key to Trump.
Trump 2 – Biden 1
4. There is no candidate from a third party.
True. Although rapper Kanye West came to announce his candidacy, he will only appear on the ballot in a small number of states.
Point for Trump.
Trump 3 – Biden 1
5. The economy is in good shape.
False. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the United States into recession.
Key for Biden.
Trump 3 – Biden 2
6. The economy has grown in the presidential term as much as in the previous two.
False. Despite the fact that the Gross Domestic Product of the United States had been growing steadily during Trump’s term, the pandemic has changed everything in a few months.
Key for Biden again.
Trump 3 – Biden 3
7. The president has made big changes in national politics.
True. The Trump Administration has introduced significant changes, such as tax reform, and has used Executive Orders that the president can pass to reverse many Obama-era policies.
Key to Trump.
Trump 4 – Biden 3
8. There have been no social conflicts during the mandate.
False. After George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, a wave of protests broke out in the country and there were serious episodes of violence.
Biden wins this key.
Trump 4 – Biden 4
9. There have been no scandals to dot the White House.
False. Trump was the subject of an “impeachment” process, impeachment in Congress and has been the protagonist of many other scandals, from the alleged Russian plot to influence the 2016 elections to the accusations of nepotism in the White House.
This key is also kept by Biden.
Trump 4 – Biden 5
10. The United States military has not suffered great failures abroad.
True. Professor Lichtman does not detect major setbacks for US forces abroad during the Trump presidency.
Key to the president.
Trump 5 – Biden 5
11. The White House has achieved great military success abroad.
False. Lichtman believes that Trump has not suffered major failures, but he has not garnered any relevant victories either.
Key for Biden.
Trump 5 – Biden 6
12. The candidate of the party in power has charisma
False. Lichtman considers Trump “a great showman,” but his figure only attracts sympathy from his most loyal base of voters.
Trump 5 – Biden 7
13. The candidate who challenges the president has no charisma.
True. Unlike Obama, who was vice president, Biden does not stand out for the charm of his figure.
The last key is for Trump.
So the distribution of keys finally looks like this:
Trump 6 – Biden 7
The 13-key model says that the next president of the United States will be Joseph Biden.
Will the model work in 2020?
Lichtman warns that there are external factors that can influence the election, such as Russian interference.
He also fears that the Democrats, with whom he aligns himself, could lose votes over Trump’s attempts to discredit the mail-in vote or even have his supporters intimidate Biden’s.
But he still believes in the model he conceived with Keilis-Borok, and even though the United States and the world have changed a lot since 1860, he remains determined to apply it.
“It is not easy to go out every four years to make a public forecast and say who is going to be the next president. Sometimes I feel a tingle when I think of everything that will happen to me if I am wrong, but the keys are still valid because they are based on the correct perception, that the voter decides on the administration of the government, not on the campaign ” .
The 13 keys have spoken. Whether they got it right again or not will only be known after the appointment with the polls on November 3.
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