Allan Lichtman Prediction for 2024 Presidential Election
The 13 Keys to the White House, developed by Distinguished Professor of History Allan J. Lichtman at American University, is an analytical framework for predicting the outcome of American presidential elections. Unlike polls and poll-based projections, this model pays attention to the larger picture, the consequential events during a president’s term, instead of focusing on campaigning and rhetoric.
The 13 Keys to the White House is a checklist of thirteen true/false statements that pertain to the circumstances surrounding a presidential election. The Keys are:
- Midterm gains: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.
- No primary contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.
- Incumbent seeking re-election: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
- No third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.
- Strong short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
- Strong long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
- Major policy change: The incumbent administration affects major changes in national policy.
- No social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.
- No scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandals.
- No foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
- Major foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves major success in foreign or military affairs.
- Charismatic incumbent: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
- Uncharismatic challenger: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.
Here is how the framework performed over the 10 Elections
|Year||% of True Keys||% of False Keys||Predicted Winner||Actual Winner|
|1984||84.62||15.38||Ronald Reagan||Ronald Reagan|
|1988||76.92||23.08||George H. W. Bush||George H. W. Bush|
|1992||53.85||46.15||Bill Clinton||Bill Clinton|
|1996||61.54||38.46||Bill Clinton||Bill Clinton|
|2000||61.54||38.46||Al Gore||George W. Bush|
|2004||69.23||30.77||George W. Bush||George W. Bush|
|2008||30.77||69.23||Barack Obama||Barack Obama|
|2012||76.92||23.08||Barack Obama||Barack Obama|
|2016||46.15||53.85||Donald Trump||Donald Trump|
|2020||46.15||53.85||Joe Biden||Joe Biden|
Based on our analysis of the above data, the variables that have most consistently sided with the winner of the Presidential Election are:
- “Charismatic Incumbent” with a consistency of 90%
- “Major Policy Change” with a consistency of 70%
- “Midterm Gains”, “Strong Long-Term Economy”, and “Major Foreign/Military Success” with a consistency of 60% each.
Allan Lichtman’s Prediction for 2024
In an interview, Lichtman revealed some insights about his system, noting that despite frequent political discussions and regular polls, it is too soon to predict the next election’s outcome.
In the 2024 model, the best chance for the Democrats to win is to have Biden run. This strategy secures two of the ’13 Keys’: the incumbency key, where the sitting president is running, and the lack of a substantial internal party conflict. The power of incumbency is underscored by the 2008 and 2016 elections, where the party in power suffered due to open seats. In the ’13 Keys’ system, six keys would have to fall for the Democrats to be predicted to lose.
Lichtman noted that several keys remain undecided, such as economic performance, foreign policy success, scandal presence, and social unrest. Despite this uncertainty, Lichtman asserted that Biden’s current strategy is the Democrats’ best bet for victory.
When asked about Donald Trump’s chances, Lichtman clarified that the ’13 Keys’ model is more concerned with the White House party’s strength and performance than the opposition candidate’s identity. Only one key pertains to the opposition candidate, requiring them to be a once-in-a-generation, inspirational figure, like Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan, to swing the key against the party in power.
No current Republican, according to Lichtman, matches the broad appeal of Ronald Reagan. While Trump is charismatic, he appeals to a much narrower base than Reagan did. Regardless of whether the Republican candidate is DeSantis, Trump, Nikki Haley, or someone else, Lichtman maintained that the identity of the candidate makes no significant difference to his predictive model.
Lichtman’s Comments on Donald Trump’s Indictment
- Alan Lichtman rates the indictment of Trump a 10 out of 10 in terms of significance. The allegations claim that Trump, as a sitting president, tried to undermine U.S. democracy, which is unprecedented in history.
- Lichtman states this indictment overshadows previous high-profile indictments in U.S. history, such as the Watergate conspirators and alleged atomic bomb spies. Its gravity is second only to treason.
- Lichtman finds it challenging to predict Trump’s defense. He speculates Trump might claim he genuinely believed the 2020 election was stolen from him. However, several prominent figures, including Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s head of cybersecurity, informed Trump the election wasn’t stolen.