Analysis of the 2020 Presidential Race

Reader From Chicago is a long-time tipster and commenter here at Gates of Vienna. His analysis below looks ahead to next year’s presidential election, the primary season of which is already well underway, at least on the Democrat side.

Analysis of the 2020 Presidential Race

by Reader From Chicago

A U.S. presidential election is scheduled for 2020. The purpose of this essay is to determine in an analytical way who is likely to win.

I first came across the historian Allan Lichtman’s model for predicting the winner of the US Presidential election during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Allan Lichtman presented his model in books such as The Keys To The White House. He went on record predicting a Trump victory a few weeks before the 2016 election. I found that prediction interesting, for it went against polling and conventional wisdom that indicated Hillary Clinton would win.

Allan Lichtman has called every presidential race since 1984. For nine elections, he was correct all nine times. The way I see it: a person who only made one or two correct predictions might be lucky. Nine correct predictions in a row is like a fair coin landing heads on 9 flips in a row, the odds of which is 1 in 512.

Lichtman’s “Keys to the White House” looks at thirteen criteria, and if the incumbent party candidate fails at least six of them, the incumbent candidate loses.

Two of the criteria I think are too subjective. Also, it cannot be determined at this time whether some criteria have been fulfilled or not. We should get definite answers a few weeks before the election. However, it may be interesting to see where we stand.

1.   After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections. The Republicans lost seats — and lost majority status — in the US House. Verdict: a strike against the incumbent.
2.   There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination. At the present time, there is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination. Someone like Jeff Flake might run, but it would be a flaky campaign. Verdict: Undetermined, but criterion likely will be fulfilled.
3.   The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president. Verdict: Criterion fulfilled.
4.   There is no significant third party or independent campaign. At the present time, I see no significant third party or independent campaign, but that might change. Verdict: Undetermined, but criterion likely will be fulfilled.
5.   The economy is not in recession during the election campaign. In financial news, it has been reported that the yield curve has inverted. A yield curve is a curve showing several yields or interest rates across different contract lengths (2 month, 2 year, 20 year, etc. …) for a similar debt contract. An inverted yield curve occurs when long-term yields fall below short-term yields. An inverted yield curve has been taken as an indicator that a recession will arrive. An inverted yield curve has occurred before recessions. However, it has been pointed out that there have been “false positives”. Verdict: Undetermined, but criterion likely will be fulfilled.

6.   Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms. If the economy continues the way it has, the Trump economy will beat the Obama economy hands down. Verdict: Undetermined, but criterion likely will be fulfilled.
7.   The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is a major change in national policy. Verdict: Criterion fulfilled.
8.   There is no sustained social unrest during the term. This is a criterion I find subjective. For example, Allan Lichtman did not think there was sustained social unrest in 2016. However, in my view the level of social unrest in 2016 was the highest in 30 years. One would have to go back to the late 1960s to find higher social unrest. As for 2020, there shouldn’t be much unrest. Verdict: Undetermined, but criterion likely will be fulfilled.
9.   The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal. The Mueller Report found that the Trump campaign did not collude with the Russian government. It seems unlikely that something new might pop up between now and Election Day. Verdict: Undetermined, but criterion likely to be fulfilled.
10.   The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs. So far that is the case. Verdict: Undermined, but criterion likely to be fulfilled.
11.   The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs. The US-North Korea Summits had early promise but were not a major success. It has been recently reported — I will submit this as a tip to the news feed — that Secretary of State Pompeo is confident that there will be a third summit. Even so, I don’t expect a major break through before the election. Verdict: Undetermined, but criterion likely to be unfulfilled.
12.   The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. This is a second criterion I find subjective. Some might find Ronald Reagan both charismatic and a national hero; others don’t. Perhaps a President who met this criterion was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who during World War II was a five star general in the US Army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. Verdict: Criterion unfulfilled.
13.   The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero. The current and potential Democratic candidates range from being nuts to creepy, but none are charismatic or a national hero. Verdict: Criterion fulfilled.

In conclusion, the odds favor Trump’s reelection.

11 thoughts on “Analysis of the 2020 Presidential Race

  1. Dympha recently made comments about Jordan Peterson being incorrect about economics and I can’t recall the second thing (tried to find the quote but couldn’t). Could you please elaborate?

    • Scroll down to April 8th, and Dymphna’s post “On being snookered…” (and replies).

      You’re welcome.

  2. The odds usually favor the incumbent unless there is a major unfulfilled promise. Thus, Bush ’41 and his “read-my-lips-no-new-taxes” prevarication. The Dems pushed that one and he lost.

    Trump is saddled with his broken promise(s) about The Wall on our southwest border. Yes, he’s met major pushback from his own party on this, but it’s a crucial – maybe the crucial campaign promise and there was a fair amount of cross-over voting on that. It’s true that he’s built *some* parts of the wall, and rebuilt others, but large sections remain open to criminals.

    GW Bush had Lee Attwater running his campaign the first time around and he fought as dirty as any Democrat. By the second campaign, L.A. had died (age 40) so there was no one of his caliber to fight off that empty suit, Bill Clinton. Attwater’s revelations of numerous bimbo eruptions would have spared us the MSM favorite, Bill Clinton & spouse.

    On such glitches do the hinges of history squeak loudly.

    Love this list!

    • He is “saddled” with one not completely fulfilled promise. One. I believe that most reasonable and rational people can see that major progress has and is being made towards the completion of this promise. The question is what percentage of the electorate is reasonable and rational. At the present time, President Trump’s approval ratings are in the low 50s which is quite impressive at this point in his presidency.

      • Only one unfulfilled promise? I totally disagree.

        Trump has carried out the program of a relatively alert traditional Republican: lower taxes, fewer regulations, more military spending. Other than that, it’s jawbone, jawbone, jawbone. Nothing on the border security, no changes in the insane federal bench injunctions, increased legal migration, no impediment to illegal immigration, no implementation of e-verify, nothing on birthright citizenship, US military intervening in over 100 remote, insignificant countries, and lots of rocket-rattling at Russia and Iran.

        In other words, Trump had a squeaker of an election and is basically dumping his base. He won by a good margin in the electoral college, but very thin margins in the key swing states. He is depending on the support of traditional Republicans, which may be a winning proposition or may not. As Ann Coulter says, the only thing that can save Trump now is the Democrats. It is quite likely the Democrats will pull Trump’s chestnuts out of the fire.

        Incidentally, I notice the stories on the open border, even on Fox, have receded. Does that mean the border controls have become effective? Or, does it simply mean that the crisis cycle has ended and it’s time for a new crisis. Trump has not implemented any dramatic action yet: no HS chief, no court challenges, no military moves. Nothing. And to actually use the military for immigration control would take an uncharacteristic Trump action. The military before at the border was not used for actual control of invaders, but as support. The President would have to explicitly ignore lower-court rulings, or use the military for a limited incursion into Mexico. I doubt either will take place.

    • Hey. I appreciate your very interesting technical analysis. The factors involved are largely out of the direct control of the President, and thus take on the characteristics of predicting a random event not affected by any discernible actions on the part of the protagonists.

      To me, the central question is, will there be a penalty for Trump’s dumping his base and flagrantly breaking his most important campaign promises? That probably depends more on whether the Democrats nominate a crazy, and that in turn seems to rest on a throw of the prediction dice. If the immigration policies continue under Trump as they have been, even if Trump serves another 4 years, a Republican after that will probably be unelectable, due to uncontrolled population replacement.

      • Alan Nichtman’s model correctly predicted the Presidential election 9 out of 9 times. The odds of that due to luck is 1 out of 512.

        A lot of the criteria is indeed effected by actions of the protagonists. A war can go badly, an economy can go into recession, the opposing party can win the mid terms–these things are influenced in a large part by the incumbent President.

  3. Donald had a good story, full of promises and nice wishes for the future. Three years after there really isn’t much to point he delivered on any of these promises. Record number of illegals(greater even than Obama), record numbers of HB-1 visas issued for foreigners to replace “expensive” Americans. Daca?“I love Daca folks!” Wall? Which wall? Maybe some kind of “fencing” ? Maybe robotic dogs Nancy mentioned? Maybe later.Maybe. More and more I’m convinced that he was just circus act to appease American anger for at least little longer. Everything points that way. I know tired old sentence… but, but at least is not Hillary. What’s the difference really? Long time ago someone said that elections have consequences. I tend to disagree. They change absolutely nothing. They are more like folklore these days.

    • Ann Coulter has tweeted that she thinks the current border mess wouldn’t be as bad under Hillary. That may be a stretch, but it is also true that a Hillary administration would be far more likely to shade or ignore the putative law when her popularity was in jeopardy. In other words, she gets bad press, and sends real troops to the border and airlifts immigrants back to their home country, in spite of lower-court injunctions. Quite likely actions for a narcissist, sociopath, self-interested President facing a deeply unpopular situation.

      • Anyone who thinks that Hillary Clinton would have been better on immigration is disingenuous.

        There would be no efforts at a Border Wall at all.

        She would have made a deal with Conservativism Inc (Rubio, McConnell, etc) to give amnesty to the illegals already in the US. Immediately increasing the Dem vote by at least a million.

        Her appointments to The Federal judiciary, which plays an important role in immigration, would have been lost to conservatives for at least a generation.

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