Allan Lichtman

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Allan Lichtman in 2010

Allan Jay Lichtman (born April 4, 1947) is an American political historian who teaches at American University in Washington, D.C. In 2006, he ran for the U.S. Senate in Maryland.

He was named by American University as the Distinguished Professor of History in 2011, and as Outstanding Scholar/Teacher for 1992–93, the highest faculty award at that school.

He is the author of numerous books and has published over 100 articles. A model he created with statistician Jack Moshman has accurately predicted the popular vote winner of all of the U.S. presidential elections from 1984 to 2016. Even in 2016, Lichtman's model accurately predicted a Clinton win in the popular vote, provided that the third party candidates most likely to draw voters from both parties or solely the Democrats (Jill Stein and Gary Johnson) collectively got less than 5% of the vote. Stein and Johnson combined to get less than 5% of the vote, and Clinton indeed went on to win the popular vote.[1]

Early life, education, and family[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. Lichtman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University as a Graduate Prize Fellow in 1973, also in history.

Educational career[edit]

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.

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,[2] submitting an extensive report of his statistical analysis of balloting problems. Lichtman concluded "there were major racial disparities in ballot rejection rates".[3] However, Lichtman made no claim that the rejections were unfair in any way, just that the rate was higher for minority blacks than for whites. He was criticized harshly for not making such a claim.

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[4]
  • Distinguished Professor of History at American University, 2011

On being appointed distinguished professor: "AU reserves this recognition for only a very few faculty, those whose scholarship has, over the long arc of their careers, been so deeply influential that it has remade their fields of knowledge. This rings true for both Distinguished Professors Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman," says Pamela Nadell, chair of the Department of History. "The Department of History celebrates their appointments, and takes great pride in becoming what will be the only department on campus with two Distinguished Professors."[5]

Description of distinguished professor from the American University website: "The rank of Distinguished Professor honors American University faculty who have produced extraordinary and exceptional scholarship that has earned national and international renown...The rank of Distinguished Professor is awarded on a highly selective basis; it is not a routine promotion for faculty who have already achieved the rank of Professor."[6]

Also, 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.[7]

Author and commentator[edit]

Lichtman is the author or co-author of nine books and more than 100 articles. He 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 or not 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 from 1984 to 2016.

Lichtman has provided commentary for networks and cable channels such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.[8][9][10] He was the regular political analyst for CNN Headline News.[when?] He is also a fifteen-year columnist for Maryland's Journal and Gazette newspapers. He has lectured across the world and been cited hundreds of times by leading newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun.

2006 Maryland Senate race[edit]

On September 28, 2005, Lichtman formally announced his candidacy for the United States Senate from Maryland as a Democrat. He ran as a progressive, opposing the War in Iraq, calling for an immediate and safe withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Lichtman used innovative approaches to reach voters and supporters during the campaign including MySpace and a web ad where he jumped in a lake. When he and other candidates were not invited by the League of Women Voters to a debate, Lichtman went to the Maryland Public Television studio and protested; he, his wife, and campaign volunteer Gail Dobson were arrested.[11][12] On October 19, 2006, the three were found Not Guilty on all charges.

Lichtman lost in the primary to Ben Cardin. According to the final tally, he received 6,919, or 1.2% of the vote, 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.[13]


  • 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[4]) Grove/Atlantic Press. ISBN 978-0-87113-984-9
  • FDR & the Jews," (Co-authored with Richard Breitman. Harvard University Press, 2013)[14][15][16]


  1. ^ Lichtman, Allan (2012). Predicting the Next President 2012: The Keys to the White House. p. 10. ISBN 1442269200. 
  2. ^ "Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election". U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. June 2001. Archived from the original on 23 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-27. 
  3. ^ "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 24 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-27. 
  4. ^ a b "National Book Critics Circle: 2008 Nonfiction Finalist White Protestant Nation, by Allan J. Lichtman – Critical Mass Blog". 
  5. ^ "Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman, Distinguished Professors – American University, Washington, DC". 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Breslev, Dia, "AU Prof Gets the 'Dough Lichtman Wins $100,000," American University Eagle, February 27, 1981.
  8. ^ "Fox News broadcast". 
  9. ^ "MSNBC broadcast". 
  10. ^ "CNN broadcast". 
  11. ^ Stephanie Desmon (August 31, 2006). "Excluded Candidates Cry Foul on Debate". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2006-09-07. [dead link]
  12. ^ "Anti-Crazy Bias Rears Its Ugly Head". Wonkette. September 1, 2006. Archived from the original on June 12, 2008. Retrieved 2006-09-07. 
  13. ^ Reilly, Corinne (2 October 2012). "In congressional races, underdogs abound, but why". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  14. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (8 March 2013). "Book 'FDR and the Jews' Looks at Roosevelt-Holocaust Issues". The New York Times. 
  15. ^ "FDR's Jewish Problem" – via The Nation. 
  16. ^ Oshinsky, David (5 April 2013). "'FDR and the Jews,' by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]