President Obama is "guaranteed" to win re-election in 2012, according to Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C. Lichtman's formula predicts the outcome of the popular vote without considering candidate opinion polls, campaign strategies or political events.
Lichtman's system is based on 13 political conditions that he calls "keys." The keys favor the incumbent president's party: When five or fewer of them are false, the incumbent party wins the presidency. If six or more are false, the opposition party wins. In 2007, Lichmann predicted that any Democratic candidate -- Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, or Barack Obama -- would have beaten John McCain.
Only four of the 13 keys (outlined here
) are currently in the "false" column for President Obama. Counting against him are the facts that he has not achieved a major foreign policy victory, that his party will lose seats in the House of Representatives, and that per-capita economic growth does not exceed the two previous presidential terms. "True" keys include: there is no serious contest for the Democratic Party nomination, Obama has not presided over a major foreign policy failure, and his administration has achieved "major changes in national policy."
Lichtman, who described the keys theory in his 2008 book, "Keys to the White House: A Surefire Guide to Predicting the Next President
," questions the widespread perception that presidential campaigns are "horse races" influenced by minor events and media coverage.
"The keys show that elections are not horse races in which candidates surge ahead or fall behind on the campaign trail, with pollsters keeping score," Lichtman said. "Rather, a pragmatic American electorate chooses a president according to 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."