Allan Lichtman

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Allan Lichtman
Portrait of Allan Lichtman.jpg
Allan Jay Lichtman

(1947-04-04) April 4, 1947 (age 76)
Alma materBrandeis University (BA)
Harvard University (PhD)
Political partyDemocratic

Allan Jay Lichtman (/ˈlɪktmən/; born April 4, 1947) is an American historian who has taught at American University in Washington, D.C. since 1973.

Lichtman created the Keys to the White House model, which he created with Soviet seismologist Vladimir Keilis-Borok in 1981. The model uses 13 True/False criteria to predict whether the candidate of an incumbent party will win or lose the next election for the U.S. president.[1] Using this model, Lichtman has accurately predicted the winner of every U.S. presidential election since 1984.[2] He ran for the U.S. Senate seat from Maryland in 2006, finishing in sixth place in the Democratic primary. In 2017, Lichtman published The Case for Impeachment, laying out multiple arguments for the impeachment of Donald Trump.[3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Lichtman was born in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School. Lichtman received his B.A. degree from Brandeis University in history in 1967, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude while also running track and wrestling for the school. In 1973, Lichtman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University as a Graduate Prize Fellow, also in history.[6]



Allan Lichtman in 2010

Lichtman began teaching at American University in 1973, rising to chair of the History Department, and was named Scholar/Professor of the Year in 1993.[7]

Outside of the classroom, Lichtman has testified as an expert witness on civil rights in more than 70 cases for the U.S. Department of Justice and for civil rights groups such as the NAACP, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. He also consulted for Vice President Al Gore and Senator Edward Kennedy. He assisted the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigation into voting irregularities in Florida during the 2000 election,[8] submitting his statistical analysis of balloting problems. Lichtman concluded "there were major racial disparities in ballot rejection rates".[9]

In the early 1980s while living in California as a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology, Lichtman had a 17-show stint on the game show Tic Tac Dough. He won $100,000 during his time on the show.[10]

Author and commentator[edit]

Lichtman is best known for the "Keys" system, presented in his books The Thirteen Keys to the Presidency and The Keys to the White House. The system uses thirteen historical factors to predict whether the popular vote in the election for President of the United States will be won by the candidate of the party holding the presidency (regardless of whether the president is the candidate). The keys were selected based on their correlations with the presidential election results from 1860 through 1980, using statistical methods adapted from the work of geophysicist Vladimir Keilis-Borok for predicting earthquakes. The system then correctly predicted the popular vote winner in each of the elections between 1984 and 2012, including a correct prediction of Gore as a popular vote winner in 2000.[11] Lichtman has provided commentary for networks and cable channels such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.[12][13][14] In the 2020 Presidential Election, Lichtman correctly predicted that Democrat Joe Biden would defeat Republican Donald Trump in both the popular vote and the electoral college.[15][16]

Nate Silver has criticized Lichtman's "keys", writing that several of the keys are subjective. For example, two of the keys are whether the incumbent has charisma and whether the challenger has charisma.[17] Silver wrote, "it’s awfully easy to describe someone as charismatic when he or she is ahead in the polls — or when you have the advantage of hindsight and know who won an election."[17]

In April 2017, Lichtman authored the book The Case for Impeachment, laying out multiple arguments for the impeachment of Donald Trump.[3][4][5] The Financial Times gave The Case for Impeachment a positive review, writing: "Lichtman's powerful book is a reminder that we are only at the start of the Trump investigations."[3] The Washington Post called it "striking to see the full argument unfold".[4] New York Journal of Books recommended it as a resource, "if you are a member of Congress trying to grapple with all that this administration has wrought."[18] The Hill gave the author praise, writing: "Lichtman has written what may be the most important book of the year."[19] CBC News consulted law scholars that said the fulfillment of Lichtman's impeachment prediction was unlikely, especially with a Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.[20] Trump was impeached by the U. S. House of Representatives on December 18, 2019, but acquitted by the U. S. Senate on February 5, 2020.

In 2020, Lichtman published Repeal the Second Amendment. In the book, Lichtman argues that the only way to solve the gun violence epidemic in America is by repealing the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.[21][22]

2006 U.S. Senate race in Maryland[edit]

Lichtman announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for United States Senate from Maryland in the 2006 election to replace Senator Paul Sarbanes; in a playful opening television ad, he pledged not to be a "conventional politician" and jumped into the C&O Canal in a business suit.[23] Lichtman was seen as a long-shot candidate, with low support in polls.[24] He criticized front-runner U.S. Representative Ben Cardin for his votes in favor of funding for the Iraq War.[24] When Lichtman was not invited by the League of Women Voters to the Maryland Public Television debate, he and other excluded candidates (Josh Rales and Dennis F. Rasmussen) protested outside the Baltimore County television studio; Lichtman and his wife were arrested after a confrontation with a security guard.[25] In 2006, both were acquitted on all charges.[26]

Lichtman lost in the primary election to Cardin, receiving 6,919 votes (1.2%), landing him in 6th place in a field of 18. In October 2012, The Washington Post reported that he was still paying off a mortgage he took out in order to help fund his campaign.[27]

Awards and honors[edit]

Lichtman has received numerous awards at American University during his career. Most notably, he was named Distinguished Professor of History in 2011 and Outstanding Scholar/Teacher for 1992–93, the highest faculty award at that school. Honors include:

  • Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Visiting Scholar, California Institute of Technology, 1980–81
  • Top Speaker Award, National Convention of the International Platform Association, 1983, 1984, 1987
  • Selected by the Teaching Company as one of America's "Super Star Teachers"
  • Outstanding Scholar/Teacher, 1992–93
  • Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award for White Protestant Nation, the Rise of the American Conservative Movement, 2008[28]
  • Distinguished Professor of History at American University, 2011
  • Winner, National Jewish Book Award, 2013 for "FDR and the Jews," with Richard Breitman
  • Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 2013 for "FDR and the Jews," with Richard Breitman


  • Historians and the Living Past: The Theory and Practice of Historical Study (Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1978; with Valerie French)
  • Ecological Inference (With Laura Irwin Langbein, Sage Series In Quantitative Applications In The Social Sciences, 1978)
  • Your Family History: How to Use Oral History, Personal Family Archives, and Public Documents to Discover Your Heritage (New York: Random House, 1978)
  • Prejudice and the Old Politics: The Presidential Election of 1928 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979; Lexington Books, 2000)
  • Kin and Communities: Families In America (Edited, with Joan Challinor, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Press, 1979)
  • The Thirteen Keys to the Presidency (Lanham: Madison Books, 1990, With Ken Decell) ISBN 978-0-8191-7008-8
  • The Keys to the White House, 1996 Edition (Lanham: Madison Books, 1996; reprint, Lexington Books Edition, 2000) ISBN 978-0-7391-0179-7
  • White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement, (Finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award in non-fiction, 2008[28]) Grove/Atlantic Press. ISBN 978-0-87113-984-9
  • FDR & the Jews, (Co-authored with Richard Breitman. Harvard University Press, 2013)[29][30][31]
  • The Case for Impeachment, HarperCollins, 2017, ISBN 0062696823
  • The Embattled Vote in America, Harvard University Press, 2018.
  • Repeal the Second Amendment: The Case for a Safer America, St. Martin's Press, 2020, ISBN 9781250244406[32]
  • Thirteen Cracks: Repairing American Democracy after Trump, Rowman & Littlefield, 2021, ISBN 9781538156513


  1. ^ "The Keys to the White House", Madison Books, 1996, ISBN 1568330618
  2. ^ Gordon, Allison (2020-08-07). "History professor who has accurately predicted every election since 1984 says Trump will lose". CNN. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  3. ^ a b c Luce, Edward (April 20, 2017), "The case for impeaching Donald Trump", Financial Times, archived from the original on 2022-12-11, retrieved June 5, 2017
  4. ^ a b c Lozada, Carlos (April 13, 2017), "The case for impeaching President Donald J. Trump. (Too soon?)", The Washington Post, retrieved June 5, 2017
  5. ^ a b Willis, Jay (April 17, 2017), "The Trump Impeachment Is Coming Soon, Says Allan Lichtman", GQ magazine, retrieved June 5, 2017
  6. ^ "Curriculum Vitae: Allan J. Lichtman" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-03-14.
  7. ^ "Faculty Profile: Allan Lichtman". American University. Retrieved 2018-03-14.
  8. ^ "Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election". U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. June 2001. Archived from the original on September 23, 2006. Retrieved September 27, 2006.
  9. ^ "Supplemental Report on the Racial Impact of the Rejection of Ballots Cast in Florida's 2000 Presidential Election and in Response to the Statement of the Dissenting Commissioners and Report by Dr. John Lott Submitted to the United States Senate Committee on Rules in July 2001". U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. July 2001. Archived from the original on September 24, 2006. Retrieved September 27, 2006.
  10. ^ Breslev, Dia, "AU Prof Gets the 'Dough Lichtman Wins $100,000," American University Eagle, February 27, 1981.
  11. ^ Lichtman, Allan J. (October 2000). "Election 2000: The Keys Point to Gore" (PDF). Social Education. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-10-27. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  12. ^ "Fox News broadcast". Fox News. 24 March 2015.
  13. ^ "MSNBC broadcast". NBC News.
  14. ^ "CNN broadcast". YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  15. ^ Lichtman, Allan (2020-08-05). "Opinion | He Predicted Trump's Win in 2016. Now He's Ready to Call 2020". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  16. ^ Brandeis, Alumni (October 25, 2020), "This Historian Has a Fool-Proof System for Predicting the Next President", [Brandeis Website], retrieved October 25, 2020
  17. ^ a b Nate Silver. "Despite Keys, Obama Is No Lock". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  18. ^ Smilke Jr., Basil (April 17, 2017), "The Case for Impeachment", New York Journal of Books, retrieved June 5, 2017
  19. ^ Budowsky, Brent (April 20, 2017), "How far is too far? The Trump impeachment debate begins now.", The Hill, retrieved June 5, 2017
  20. ^ Kwong, Matt (April 18, 2017), "Analysis - 'Prediction prof' who called Trump's win now predicts his impeachment, but scholars aren't convinced", CBC News, retrieved June 5, 2017
  21. ^ Lichtman, Allan (August 6, 2019), "Repeal the Second Amendment to save Americans from gun violence'", The Hill
  22. ^ Lichtman, Allan (June 24, 2022), "The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment hoax", New York Daily News
  23. ^ Ann Marimow, Lichtman's Big Splash, The Washington Post (March 10, 2006).
  24. ^ a b Matthew Mosk & John Wagner, Long-Shot Candidates May Harm Cardin, The Washington Post (July 24, 2006).
  25. ^ Stephanie Desmon (August 31, 2006). "Excluded Candidates Cry Foul on Debate". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on June 22, 2021.
  26. ^ Allan Lichtman, Karyn Strickler, acquitted in 2006 TV studio incident, The Washington Post (September 1, 2006).
  27. ^ Reilly, Corinne (October 2, 2012). "In congressional races, underdogs abound, but why". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  28. ^ a b "National Book Critics Circle: 2008 Nonfiction Finalist White Protestant Nation, by Allan J. Lichtman – Critical Mass Blog".
  29. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (March 8, 2013). "Book 'FDR and the Jews' Looks at Roosevelt-Holocaust Issues". The New York Times.
  30. ^ Zuckerman, Laurence (17 July 2013). "FDR's Jewish Problem" – via The Nation. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  31. ^ Oshinsky, David (April 5, 2013). "'FDR and the Jews,' by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman". The New York Times.
  32. ^ REPEAL THE SECOND AMENDMENT by Allan J. Lichtman | Kirkus Reviews.

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