Thirteen keys to the White House

I just ran into this through Errol Louis, in his Daily News column. Until now I knew nothing whatsoever about Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University, who developed these keys to presidential election success or failure.

I just pulled them from Wikipedia, because Louis cites only six in determining that Trump will lose the election. (Lichtman says if six of these thirteen key statements are false, the incumbent loses.)

I found this summary on Wikipedia trenchant, as well as intriguing — my bolding. So maybe Joe Biden’s lower-key approach, necessitated by COVID, to the campaign will work just fine.

The Keys are based on the theory that presidential election results turn primarily on the performance of the party controlling the White House and that campaigning by challenging or incumbent-party candidates will have no impact on results. According to this theory, a pragmatic American electorate chooses a president based on the performance of the party holding the White House as measured by the consequential events and episodes of a term – economic boom and bust, foreign policy successes and failures, social unrest, scandal, and policy innovation.

According to the theory, if the nation fares well during the term of the incumbent party, that party wins another four years in office; otherwise, the challenging party prevails. According to the Keys model, nothing that a candidate has said or done during a campaign, when the public discounts conventional electioneering as political spin, has changed their prospects at the polls. Debates, advertising, television appearances, news coverage, and campaign strategies count for virtually nothing on Election Day.

Here are the full thirteen:

  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 effects 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 charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
  13. Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

I’m counting at least seven against Trump (unless you consider that utterly ignoring national policy is a major change). And Trump = charisma? Boy, is that a matter of taste.

And how many major scandals can be counted under Number 9?


Posted in 2020 presidential campaign, Politics, The Facts of Life, Trump Stuff, TV commercials, voting rights | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Money in politics? This PAC has got to be a joke

Just pulled this from DailyKos Elections coverage, in which they inform us who’s doing what and spending what in election campaigns around the country.

Take a look, read it carefully (it’s short, you can do it) and either (a) laugh a lot or (b) sit there with your mouth hanging open:

NV-03: The conservative super PAC Ending Spending recently launched an ad against former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz ahead of the June 9 GOP primary, and Politico reports that the size of the buy for the TV and digital campaign is $300,000.

I don’t need to bold the name of the conservative super PAC — along with the money they’re spending on that ad — right?

This is a new depth for Orwellian insanity.

Posted in Politics, Strictly for bitter laughter, The Facts of Life, The filthy rich, Trump Stuff, voting rights | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Money in politics? This PAC has got to be a joke

Mysteries of Life: Why does anyone believe The Big Lie?

Big lies are yammered over and over and over. I don’t believe them. I know the facts. Why would anyone else believe them?


Repeat something often enough, brazenly enough and aggressively enough to people dazed enough by the cacophony around them, and they will lose their bearings enough to believe anything… – Roger Cohen, New York Times columnist

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the consequences of the lie. – Joseph Goebbels


The great masses of the people…will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.

All propaganda has to be popular and has to adapt its spiritual level to the perception of the least intelligent of those towards whom it intends to direct itself.

The last two quotes come from Adolph Hitler. Please note his contempt for “the people,” i.e., his followers, his believers. He pitched the Big Lie to people he called “least intelligent.”

If you are prone to believe the big lie, remember the person telling it thinks you’re stupid, and despises you for it.

Whether the liar is delusional enough to believe his own big lie is irrelevant.

Whether he convinces you to believe him, is.

—From a chapter of my forthcoming book, How I Learned The Facts of Life

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