FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What Kerry Must Do to Win (But Probably Won’t)

by ALLAN J. LICHTMAN And VLADIMIR KEILIS-BOROK

Politics as usual will not suffice for John Kerry in his speech to the Democratic Convention. Kerry can hope to shorten the long odds he faces against President Bush only with a bold, imaginative approach to winning the election.

This challenging conclusion for Kerry comes from the Keys to the White House, a prediction system we developed in 1981 by applying the mathematics of pattern recognition to the outcomes of every presidential election since 1860. We subsequently used the Keys to predict correctly, well ahead of time, the popular vote results of presidential elections from 1984 to 2000.

The theory behind the keys is that presidential elections are primarily referenda on the performance of the party holding the White House, as voters respond not to daily spin control but to the consequential events of a presidential term. The keys are thirteen diagnostic questions, phrased as propositions that favor reelection of the incumbent party. When five or fewer are false, the party in power wins. When six or more are false, the challenging party wins.

President Bush now has four keys turned against him, two short of the fatal six negative keys. The following nine keys currently favor Bush.

*By gaining seats in the U.S. House elections of 2002, Republicans locked in the party mandate key.

*The lack a nomination contest gives Bush the incumbent party contest key.

*Bush’s nomination locks up the incumbent president key.

*The absence of a third-party challenger with prospects of winning 5 percent of the vote secures the third-party key.

*The recovering economy gains the short-term economy key.

*The absence of sustained, violent upheavals avoids loss of the social unrest key.

*The president’s response to the September 11 attack including the expulsion of the Taliban from Afghanistan and the capture of Saddam Hussein secures the foreign/military success key.

*The lack of a major scandal implicating the president averts loss of the scandal key. *Kerry is no John F. Kennedy, keeping Republicans from losing the challenger charisma key.

The following four keys fall against Bush.

*The weak economy during the full Bush term forfeits the long-term economy key.

*The administration’s relatively modest domestic accomplishments topple the policy-change key.

*The most devastating foreign attack on the United States in history costs Bush the foreign/military failure key.

*Bush lacks the charisma of a Ronald Reagan, losing the incumbent charisma key.

Keys could change before November. The economy could tumble into a double-dip recession, one of several potential scandals could afflict the president, and events in Iraq and Afghanistan could negate his successes abroad. Kerry could lose the popular vote and win the Electoral College tally, which Bush accomplished in 2000 for the first time since 1888. Although Kerry cannot depend on such unlikely turns of fortune, he can help himself by trying to scramble the historical odds.

Nothing changes from one election to the next in America, because the media, the candidates, the pollsters, and the consultants are codependent in the false idea that elections are exercises in manipulating voters, and in giving us negative campaigns, bland and scripted lines. Kerry has a chance to break this cycle by firing the hucksters, tearing up their scripts, and speaking forthrightly and concretely about what Americans should be accomplishing during the next four years.

Kerry, who loves policy challenges, should lead a debate on critical neglected issues. He could, for example, respond to the worldwide scientific consensus on the perils of global warming by exploring how we can shift away from fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energy. He could even explain how fossil fuel dependence warps our foreign policies and our war against terrorism. Imagine such a discussion in a presidential campaign.

Why not break precedent and set up a shadow government, with a suggested CIA Director and Secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury, and Interior. Tell us how this shadow administration would government differently from the Bush administration. Submit an alternative budget and drafts of international agreements and major legislation; let the shadow officials campaign for the Kerry and his policies.

Kerry has a choice between following the usual meaningless routine in the hope that setbacks to the administration and the country will elect him in November or take a chance on running a new kind of daring, innovative, and programmatic campaign. With the right choice, Kerry can achieve an historical breakthrough that would establish the basis for a principled choice of our national leader and a grassroots mobilization on issues that matter to America’s future.

Allan J. Lichtman is Professor of History at American University in Washington DC. Vladimir Keilis-Borok is Professor in Residence at UCLA’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

Lichtman can be reached: lichtman@american.edu

 

 

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail