John Kerry Will Win the Popular Vote

But Then So Did Al Gore

By Christian Schock

Four years ago, in an article I wrote for The Zephyr, I declared, "It is wholly possible it will not matter who wins the presidential debates, or manages to explain his tax cut scheme, or proposes the more plausible drug prescription plan for the elderly. Albert Gore has eight of thirteen keys to the presidency, and nothing George Bush can do will make the election’s outcome different."

As we know, Al Gore received more of the popular vote than Bush, but dubious methods of counting ballots in Florida, and five members of the United States Supreme Court, overcame the popular will.

I first heard of the keys to the presidency in 1982 while attending the annual meeting of the American Association of Political Consultants in Washington, DC. Although we had speakers of national prominence, one person of whom few of us had heard captured and held our attention. He was Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University.

In 1981, while he was lecturing and doing academic research in Southern California, he met Volodia Keilis-Borok, of the former Soviet Union. Keilis-Borok was a geophysicist, and his area of specialization was the study of earthquakes and the means by which they might be forecast. California was an excellent place for fieldwork.

Professor Lichtman had long been trying to discover a method of predicting the outcome of presidential elections. Keilis-Borok suggested the technique of pattern recognition, which he used to try to predict earthquakes, might well be applicable to presidential elections. Working together, they came up with thirteen factors, or keys, that would have accurately foretold the outcome of every election since 1860.

There were two exceptions to the predictions of the factors. In 1876, Samuel Tilden easily won the popular vote, but the Republicans stole the election for Rutherford B. Hayes. Grover Cleveland received a majority of the popular vote in 1888, but through fraud and chicane, Benjamin Harrison took possession of the White House. Therefore, it is more correct to say the keys will predict the outcome of the popular vote rather than the winner of the election. That was demonstrated again four years ago.

Since Professor Lichtman addressed the consultants in 1982, the keys predicted the outcome of the elections of 1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996. As I have said, the winner of the popular vote in 2000, as predicted by the Lichtman keys, has not been occupying the Oval Office.

Here are the thirteen keys to the presidency, given in question form. Each must be answered "yes" or "no." Each question is followed by the answer which would favor the election of the candidate of the party in power. Also listed, in parenthesis, is the answer according to current conditions and the name of the candidate who benefits from it. Where it is appropriate, I have provided an explanation of why I believe the key is turned in a specific direction.

1. Did the incumbent party gain at least 51 percent of the vote cast in the previous election? Yes. (No. John F. Kerry).

2. Was there a serious contest for the nomination of the incumbent party candidate? No. (No. George W. Bush.)

3. Was there major third party activity during the election year? No. (No. Bush.)

4. Is the incumbent party candidate the sitting president? Yes. (Yes. Bush.)

5. Was the yearly mean per capita rate of growth in the Real Gross National Product equal to or greater than the mean rate of the previous eight years, and equal to or greater than 1 percent? Yes. (No. Kerry).

6. Is the election year a time of recession or depression? No. (Yes. Kerry.)

7. Did the incumbent president initiate major changes in national policy? Yes. (Yes. Bush.)

8. Was there major social unrest during the incumbent administration? No. (Yes. Kerry.) (Social unrest is defined in a number of ways by sociologists. The most obvious is that manifested in the form of demonstrations, or even riots. It can also take the form of general discontent, as manifested in a belief the country is headed in the wrong direction. Reputable opinion polls have been reflecting that for almost a year.)

9. Was the incumbent administration tainted by major scandal? No. (No. Bush)

10. Did the incumbent administration suffer a major setback in foreign or military policy? No. (Yes. Kerry.)

11. Did it achieve a major success in foreign or military policy? Yes. (No. Kerry.)

12. Is the incumbent party candidate charismatic or a national hero? Yes. (No. Kerry.)

13. Is the challenging party candidate charismatic or a national hero? No. (No. Bush.)

The tally is seven keys turned to victory for John Kerry, and six for George Bush.

In answering questions 10 and 11, I have tried to overcome my own partisanship. My reasons for answering as I have follow.

After the events of September 11, 2001, a "war on terror" was declared. However, in that war, only the nineteen terrorists who were incinerated that day have been brought to final justice, and that only through the nature of what they did.

A few others, whom it is claimed were major figures in the general terrorist movement, have been killed or captured, but their actual importance is open to question. In any case, others have stepped forward to take their places. In at least 60 other nations, terrorist cells still exist. That is a number greater than existed on 9/11.

In his effort to create a coalition to attack Iraq, George Bush managed to alienate some of our major allies. In the countries which did join with him, according to opinion polls taken there, Bush and the United States are despised.

While the Iraqi army was handily defeated, it has since become clear that army was a paper tiger. Its most effective elements disappeared into the general population, and are now important components of what is called the insurgency. Indeed, many Iraqis who were not a part of the army, and were even well-disposed toward the United States and its allies, are now engaging in hostile acts toward them.

After World War II, the United States and its allies did not experience one-one-thousandth of the problems now being encountered in Iraq. As a consequence, the United States has sustained many casualties, and has to expend billions of dollars unanticipated when the attack on Iraq was launched.

Given those circumstances, it is fair to say the United States has not achieved a major success in foreign or military policy, but has suffered a major setback in foreign and military policy.