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Allan Lichtman: The 13 Keys to the White House

Biden will win by a narrow margin, says historian who correctly predicted every presidential race since 1984.

The Keys to the White House is a 1996 book, revised in 2008, about a prediction system for determining the outcome of presidential elections in the United States. The system, inspired by earthquake research, was first developed in 1981 by American historian Allan Lichtman and Russian scientist Vladimir Keilis-Borok.

The Keys are statements that favor victory (in the popular vote count) for the incumbent party. When five or fewer statements are false, the incumbent party is predicted to win the popular vote; when six or more are false, the challenging party is predicted to win the popular vote.

  1. Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.
  2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.
  3. Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
  4. Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.
  5. Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
  6. Long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
  7. Policy change: The incumbent administration affects major changes in national policy.
  8. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.
  9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
  10. Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
  11. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.
  12. Incumbent (party) charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
  13. Challenger (party) charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

2020 United States presidential election

On August 5 2020, Allan Lichtman predicted that Donald Trump will lose the 2020 United States presidential election to challenger Joe Biden based on seven of the thirteen keys of his prediction model turning false against the incumbency. In other words, keys 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 11 are in Biden’s favor while keys 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 13 are in Trump’s favor.


  1. Keilis-Borok, V. I. & Lichtman, A. J. (1981). “Pattern Recognition Applied to Presidential Elections in the United States, 1860–1980: The Role of Integral Social, Economic, and Political Traits”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  2. Breuninger, Kevin (August 5, 2020). “Biden will beat Trump, says historian who predicted every presidential race since 1984”CNBC.com.
  3. Lichtman, Allan (August 5, 2020). “He Predicted Trump’s Win in 2016. Now He’s Ready to Call 2020”The New York Times.
“We are the United States of America! There’s not a single thing we cannot do if we do it together!” – Joe Biden

This post was compiled by Michael Simms.

4 comments on “Allan Lichtman: The 13 Keys to the White House

  1. J. Curran
    October 22, 2020

    5. The economy is not in a recession. (favors TRUMP)
    9. No major scandals (made-up stories about Russia don’t count) (favors Trump)
    11. Trump dismantles ISIS, kills Baghdadi. (favors TRUMP)
    12. Trump is charismatic (favors TRUMP)

    1,6,8 for Biden; 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9 ,10, 11, 12, 13 for Trump.


  2. Larry Ring
    October 10, 2020

    Key 11: Trump effectively ends Islamic terror by destroying caliphate. Islamic terror dominated our thinking for 10 years, and during 8 years of Obama Administration. Trump ended it so quickly, easily, that Lichtman, the genius, doesn’t even notice. Key 11 goes to Trump.


  3. Charles Rogers
    August 24, 2020

    You are correct that Professor Lichtman’s analysis of his keys to victory favors Biden, but you misidentified two of the keys. You state that key 10 is in Biden’s favor and key 12 is in Trump’s favor. To the contrary, Professor LIchtman identified key 10 in Trump’s favor and key 12 in Biden’s favor. The tally should read as follows: keys 1, 5, 6, 8 9, 11, and 12 are in Biden’s favor and keys 2, 3, 4, 7 10, and 13 are in Trump’s favor.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on August 21, 2020 by in Most Popular, Opinion Leaders, Social Justice and tagged , .

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