Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House, 2012 Edition

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9781442212114: Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House, 2012 Edition

Think that Richard Nixon lost the 1960 presidential election because he sweated on TV? Or that John Kerry was “swiftboated” out of the presidency in 2004? Think again! In Predicting the Next President political analyst and historian Allan J. Lichtman presents thirteen historical factors, or “keys” (four political, seven performance, and two personality), that determine the outcome of presidential elections. In the chronological, successful application of these keys to every election since 1860, Lichtman dispels much of the mystery behind electoral politics and challenges many traditional assumptions. An indispensable resource for political junkies who want to get a head-start on calling Decision 2012.

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About the Author:

Allan J. Lichtman teaches history at American University in Washington, D.C. He is a regular political analyst for CNN Headline News and also provides political commentary for every other network and cable channel. He is the author of White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement.

Review:

Lichtman's book has gone through many editions because his 12 keys to predicting the next president all seem plausible influences on presidential election outcomes. To his credit, Lichtman (history, American Univ.) has called the outcome of every presidential election from 1984 to 2008. Yet some of his model's variables permit a bit of fudging. Two involve the relative "charisma" of the presidential candidates. Similar concerns arise regarding his variables "sustained social unrest," "scandal," and foreign/military "success" and "failure." Reliable measures of any of these "keys" are fraught with peril. This is the case regarding his 2012 prediction of an Obama victory. For example, Lichtman says that neither the Tea Party nor Occupy Wall Street movements are a sign of sustained social unrest, but that remains a judgment call. Perhaps the best way to understand Lichtman's prior success is that he correctly defined some fuzzy factors for several elections. But given the ambiguity of several "keys," future predictions have considerable capacity for error. The book does not discover the Rosetta Stone of election forecasts, but instead reveals one scholar's able series of educated guesses. Summing Up: Recommended. (CHOICE)

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