16 December 2023

A little note of cautious optimism

Political scientist Allen Lichtman, whose "keys to the White House" method (weighted factors; somewhat arbitrary, but effective) correctly predicted the outcome all US presidential elections since 1980 and is consistent with previous elections back to FDR, notes the following for those who are seriously worried about a Trump victory. (As we all should be). 

1. One of the most determinative factors is incumbency. In fact, although it's too early for the range of predictors to be fully determined yet, it is probably the case that Biden is in a better position, just due to this one factor, than any other Democrat. (Incumbency touts six other "key" factors in his system. And, although not an absolute, no president has ever been elected after losing previously to the same opponent. Ever. The most recent example is Adlai Stevenson, who lost to Eisenhower twice: the first time by a minor landslide and the second time in a blowout, in 1956). 

2. The economy, according to various measures, is (despite a lot of crowing) actually a plus factor for Biden, and strongly so. 

3. Trump's criminal indictments and lack of crossover support among almost any Democrats at all (and weak support among independents) are strong negatives, no matter what early polling may show. Should he be convicted before the election, it likely will cost him the election almost regardless of other factors. 

So, yes, of course, we have to work hard to ensure the outcome, but right now it's reasonable to say that the election of Donald Trump in 2024 is somewhere between quite and very unlikely. Events could intercede, of course, but that works both ways. And, oddly enough, the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, although both have cost Biden some support among Progressives, are factors in favor of an incumbent, according to Lichtman's successful method). 


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