President Obama will be re-elected in 2012, according to a historian whose “Keys to the White House” system has accurately forecast the outcomes of all U.S. presidential contests since 1984.
American University history professor Allan Lichtman developed his system based on 13 “keys,” and he says that system currently favors Obama winning a second term, despite Republicans taking additional power in Congress this week.
“At this point I project Obama to be losing only 3 keys for sure: Party Mandate based on the midterm elections, Long-Term Economy, and Foreign/Military Success,” he says in a web chat on the Washington Post website. “I would still not necessarily grant him the charisma key, although he does seem to be regaining that. So, at most he is 4 keys down. It takes 6 negative keys to predict the defeat of the party in power. So Obama even has some cushion going into 2012.”
Lichtman’s forecast comes despite what continue to be middling-at-best approval ratings for a president who has seen his popularity slide dramatically since his historic 2009 inauguration.
Lichtman says that the basic idea behind his system is that the outcome of presidential elections does not depend upon the presidential campaign, but upon how well the party in power governs the country.
“If it governs well, it will get four more years in power, if not the challenging party will win,” he explains. “Thus the 13 keys in my system primarily gauge the strength and performance of the party holding the White House. It looks at factors such a midterm elections, third-party insurgencies, internal party battles within the incumbent party, the long and short-term economy, policy change, social unrest, scandal, and foreign policy victories and defeats. If six or more of the thirteen keys go against the party in power they lose, if not they win. Right now Obama had at most only four keys turned against him, so he is a predicted winner.”
Lichtman also sees the landmark healthcare reform law, which the new Republican-controlled House has vowed to repeal, as a positive for Obama’s re-election.
“A comprehensive health care bill was an extraordinary accomplishment that has eluded numerous past presidents. It will actually help Obama in 2012 by giving him a record on which to run,” he says.
Lichtman adds that healthcare reform actually plays into one of his “keys,” which may be one reason the GOP is so eager to do away with it.
“The health care bill turns the policy-change key in favor of the president, which helps explain why Republicans are so eager for repeal,” he says.
Newly installed House Speaker John Boehner will find it nearly impossible to rollback much of the Obama agenda enacted in the last two years, despite a reported 20-day sprint to do so, Lichtman says, because Democrats continue to hold the White House and Senate.
“Republicans can obstruct Democratic programs, but cannot enact their own agenda or even roll back previous legislation effectively,” he says.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.