Who will win the US Presidential Election? Professor Lichtman may hold the key

May 13, 2024
2024 Presidential election day in united states. illustration vector graphic of united states flag

The Guardian newspaper reports that history professor Allan Lichtman is known as the Nostradamus of US presidential elections since he has correctly predicted the results of nine of the past ten ballots.

And even the one he missed in 2000, he insists was stolen from Al Gore because thousands of black votes got rejected on a technicality.

Lichtman’s prediction system consistently outperforms traditional polling methods.

The Guardian says Lichtman finds Biden already has the incumbency key in his favour and, having crushed token challengers in the Democratic primary, has the contest key too. “That’s two keys off the top. That means six more keys would have to fall to predict his defeat. A lot would have to go wrong for Biden to lose” .

So how does Lichtman’s Presidential forecasting model work and what does it tell us about the election chances of Biden and Trump right now?

Lichtman’s Prediction System

Allan Lichtman’s 13 keys for predicting presidential elections are part of a system called “The Keys to the White House.” Developed by Lichtman and Russian geophysicist Vladimir Keilis-Borok in 1981, this system aims to determine the outcome of U.S. presidential elections based on these specific criteria:

1,  Party Mandate: The incumbent party nominee is predicted to win if they have a clear mandate from the previous election.

2,  No Primary Contest: If there is no significant primary contest within the incumbent party, it favours their victory.

3,  Incumbent Seeking Re-election: If the current president is seeking re-election, it’s a positive sign for their party.

4,  No Third Party: The absence of a strong third-party candidate benefits the incumbent party.

5,  Strong Long-Term Economy: A robust long-term economic situation favors the incumbent party.

6,  Strong Short-Term Economy: A positive short-term economic outlook also benefits the incumbent party.

7,  Major Policy Change: If there has been a significant policy change during the incumbent’s term, it may work against them.

8,  No Social Unrest: Stability and lack of social unrest are favourable for the incumbent party.

9,  No Scandal: The absence of major scandals is beneficial for the incumbent.

1o,Foreign/Military Failure: If there has been a foreign or military failure during the incumbent’s term, it may hurt their chances.

11, Foreign/Military Success: Conversely, foreign or military success can be advantageous for the incumbent party.

12, Incumbent Charisma: The personal charisma of the incumbent president plays a role in the prediction.

13, Challenger Charisma: The charisma of the challenging party’s nominee is also considered Voters, according to Lichtman, tend to vote retrospectively based on their assessment of how the incumbent president has governed the country rather than how they campaigned.

Leichtman’s scoring of Biden and Trump

Allan Lichtman’s assessment of Joe Biden and Donald Trump regarding the 13 keys for predicting presidential elections is based on various factors. Let’s evaluate each key for both candidates:

1,  Party Mandate: Neither candidate has a clear mandate from the previous election, as both were not incumbents in the 2020 election.

2,  No Primary Contest: Both Biden and Trump faced primary contests within their respective parties, so this key is not in favor of either.

3,  Incumbent Seeking Re-election: Since neither was the incumbent in 2020, this key doesn’t apply.

4,  No Third Party: No strong third-party candidate emerged, benefiting both.

5,  Strong Long-Term Economy: The economy was relatively strong before the pandemic, which could favour both candidates.

6,  Strong Short-Term Economy: The pandemic-induced economic downturn affected both candidates.

7,  Major Policy Change: Trump’s policies differed significantly from previous administrations, while Biden aimed for policy changes.

8,  No Social Unrest: Social unrest occurred during both administrations, impacting this key.

9,  No Scandal: Both candidates faced controversies, affecting this key.

1o, Foreign/Military Failure: Trump’s handling of foreign affairs faced scrutiny, while Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan impacted this key.

11, Foreign/Military Success: Trump brokered Middle East peace deals, while Biden’s actions are still unfolding.

12, Incumbent Charisma: Neither was the incumbent, so this key doesn’t directly apply.

13, Challenger Charisma: Biden’s appeal was different from Trump’s, but both had their own charisma.

Remember that Lichtman’s system is retrospective, and voters’ perceptions play a crucial role. The final verdict depends on how these factors are interpreted by the electorate.

How Biden and Trump rate now

As of now, assessing the chances of victory for Joe Biden and Donald Trump involves considering various factors. Keep in mind that political landscapes can shift, and public opinion may change over time. However, based on the available information:

  1. Joe Biden:


  • Incumbency: Biden is the current president, which historically provides an advantage.
  • No significant primary contest within his party.
  • His administration has made policy changes, such as the American Rescue Plan Act.
  • He has foreign policy experience.


  • Social unrest during his term.
  • Controversies and scandals.
  • The withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • The economy recovering from the pandemic.

Overall Assessment: Biden’s incumbency and policy actions may work in his favour, but challenges exist.

    2. Donald Trump:


  • Strong base of support within the Republican Party.
  • No third-party candidate.
  • Charisma and appeal to certain voters.
  • Economic policies before the pandemic.


  • Not the incumbent.
  • Controversies during his term.
  • Foreign policy decisions.
  • Social unrest.

Overall Assessment: Trump’s base and economic record could be assets, but challenges remain.


At this stage, it’s hard to definitively predict a winner. Public opinion, campaign strategies, and unforeseen events will play critical roles. Stay tuned for further developments!

Allan Lichtman’s analysis highlights the significance of the incumbency key and the lack of a significant primary contest in Joe Biden’s favour. Let’s break it down:

1,  Incumbency Key: As the current president, Biden holds this key. Incumbents historically have an advantage in presidential elections due to their position and visibility.

2,  No Primary Contest: Biden faced minimal opposition within the Democratic primary, securing the nomination relatively easily. This lack of a serious challenge is another positive sign for his campaign.

With these two keys already in Biden’s favour, Lichtman suggests that six more keys would need to shift against him to predict his defeat.

However, as we’ve seen in past elections, unexpected events can alter the landscape. It will be fascinating to observe how the remaining keys play out in the lead-up to the 2024 election!

Allan Lichtman is likely to make his pronouncement on the 2024 presidential election in early August.


Acknowledgement: To Bing’s Copilot for assistance with researching and writing this article.

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