There is a prediction method to know who the next US president might be that has not failed since 1984. So far, Joe Biden has the upper-hand.
“The Keys to the White House” is a system of prediction invented by American historian Allan Lichtman to make reasonable guesses on who the next US president will be. So far, Lichtman predicted every presidential victory since 1984, including the completely unexpected Donald Trump win in 2016.
The system is made of 13 criteria, or “keys” that ensure a White House victory for the candidate that satisfies the majority. In other words, any candidate that holds 7 out of 13 “keys” is the likely presidential winner.
Allan Lichtman has not made a complete prediction for 2024. He believes three keys are still on the fence between the two parties. However, because the two candidates will most likely be Donald Trump and Joe Biden, some analysis is already possible.
So far, the incumbent president Joe Biden firmly holds 6 keys:
- Contest: Joe Biden has the full support of the Democratic party with no major internal division;
- Incumbency: Joe Biden is the sitting president;
- Third Party: there is no third-party candidate with over 5% of the popular support;
- Policy change: Joe Biden signed into law major reforms on inflation, infrastructure, and healthcare;
- Social unrest: there was no widespread social unrest during Biden’s term;
- Challenger charisma: Donald Trump may be a charismatic leader for his core supporters, but the majority of Americans are wary of the many criminal charges placed on his head.
On the other hand, Donald Trump holds 4 keys:
- Party mandate: the Republican party won the majority of the seats in the House at the 2022 midterm elections;
- Scandal: Joe Biden is unpopular with Republican supporters because of the scandal surrounding his son Hunter;
- Foreign or military failure: the Afghanistan debacle severely undermined America’s standing in the world;
- Incumbent charisma: although Joe Biden had a very active presidency, his old age worries even Democratic supporters, therefore he cannot be considered a charismatic leader.
At the moment, neither candidate has the 7 keys necessary to secure the election, at least according to Lichtman’s system. The three remaining criteria, which might decide the election outcome, are:
- Long-term economy: real GDP per capita has grown more than GDP during the incumbent term. So far, Joe Biden holds this key, but 2023 and 2024 data is needed to confirm it;
- Short-term economy: the United States is not experiencing a recession during the election year. This is the most uncertain key because analysts are still debating whether the violent monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve will cause a recession or not;
- Foreign or military success: at the moment, this key belongs to Donald Trump. However, if the Ukraine war ends with Russian defeat before the elections, this will be considered a major military success during Biden’s term.
It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that next year Joe Biden will focus on avoiding a recession while pushing Ukraine to victory. Neither of those, however, are certain outcomes.