By Tom Boyd
Perhaps not a landslide, but an earthquake instead: proven prediction method picks Obama in '08
August 25, 2008 —
Predicting the future is usually the stuff of legends and prophets – but in some ways it’s also the realm of science. While journalists and delegates converge on Denver for the Democratic National Convention this week, two scientists have already determined who will come out the winner in November’s presidential election.
As the Washington Post reported this morning, their highly-reliable prediction method chooses Obama to win the popular vote this November.
Allan Lichtman, a historian, and Vladimir Keilis-Borok, a geophysicist, have correctly predicted every election since 1980. According to the Post, the pair first met over dinner more than 25 years ago, and by the end of the evening they had combined the knowledge in their two fields to develop a nascent mathematical means to correctly predicting election results.
Rather than study the up-close and personal interrelations of American Politics, the duo borrow methods from the study and prediction of earthquakes. By taking a big-picture view of what’s happening in American Politics the two found a way to correctly predict the outcome of the popular vote in every presidential election since they devised the method in 1981, as well as 128 of 150 mid-term Senatorial elections, according to Wikipedia.
Lichtman predicted Al Gore as the winner of the 2000 race because his method predicts the outcome of the popular vote, not the electoral college. The method looks at certain “key” political factors to determine if there will be “stability” or “upheaval” during an election. Those keys include the absence or presence of a recession, the presence of a major policy victory in the previous term, and a third-party candidate who won five or more percent of the overall vote.
This November, in a paper in the International Journal of Forecasting, Licktman’s prediction for this November was an earthquake – in Obama’s favor.
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