Historian who predicted last Trump victory says he will lose this time

Published August 17, 2020
US President Donald Trump’s “failed response to many crises that have arisen in 2020 has resulted in the most sudden and dramatic reversal of fortune in the history of the US”, says historian. — Reuters/File
US President Donald Trump’s “failed response to many crises that have arisen in 2020 has resulted in the most sudden and dramatic reversal of fortune in the history of the US”, says historian. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: The historian who has correctly predicted every US presidential election since 1984 has made his pick for 2020: Joe Biden.

Professor Allan Lichtman, a Harvard scholar who teaches history at the American University, Washington, was among a handful of US scholars who predicted President Donald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has already killed almost 170,000 Americans and infected 5.37 million, is preventing both Trump and Biden from running a full-fledged election campaign. The gap has been filled by the electronic media, with the internet taking the lead.

Although in 2016, most opinion polls failed to see Trump’s victory, the absence of other means to gauge voters’ inclination has increased the significance of surveys and election forecasts.

And Prof Lichtman’s record of accurately predicting election results for almost 40 years places him in the front row of political pundits.

Lichtman uses a 13-point measuring scale to predict elections and key factors on this scale include strength of the economy, incumbency, contests, policy changes, scandals, social unrest and the personal charisma of a candidate.

In an interview on a popular radio show, The Morning Show with Kate Archer Kent, Lichtman explained that while conventional polls focus on candidates, he concentrates on the record of the incumbent party. If six or more of the relevant factors favour the incumbent party, it stays in the White House.

In the interview, Lichtman said that in late 2019 Trump only had four negative points, but his popularity dropped rapidly during the Covid-19 crisis and the anti-racism protests, causing him and others to predict his defeat in November.

Trump’s “failed response to many crises that have arisen in 2020 has resulted in the most sudden and dramatic reversal of fortune in the history of the US”, the professor said.

“In the matter of a few months, three more keys have turned against the incumbent Trump. With seven negative keys against him, Trump is a predicted loser in his bid for re-election in November.”

Other opinion polls published this week also showed unfavorable results for Trump.

On Sunday, Five-Thirty-Eight, a website that takes its name from the number of electors in the US electoral college, estimated a 44 per cent approval and 50 per cent disapproval rating for Trump in this week’s polls.

Another site, Real-Clear-Politics, showed that in this week’s polls Trump averaged 43.3 per cent approval and 54.4 disapproval ratings.

A third estimate, by Huffington Post, showed Trump scoring 43.1 per cent approval and 50.9 per cent disapproval votes.

Even conservative Fox News, which strongly supports Trump, showed Trump’s approval rating at 44 per cent while his disapproval surged to 54 per cent.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2020

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