Kamala Harris Can’t Save Dems, Election-Predicting Historian Says

A professor and historian who successfully predicted the last 9 out of 10 elections since 1984 believes President Joe Biden is still the safest bet for Democrats.

Since Biden’s poor debate performance against Donald Trump, the president has fielded calls from voters, donors, and congressional colleagues to drop out of the race for a new nominee.

Some names floated as potential replacements include Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. However, as Business Insider has previously reported, Vice President Kamala Harris may be the most obvious and viable option for Democrats given the immediate war chest she would get from Biden’s campaign and the boost from intra-party support.

But Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University, told The Wall Street Journal that even Harris can’t save the Democrats based on his famous model, “Keys to the White House.” This model entails 13 true-and-false questions to determine the performance of the party holding the White House. If six or more of the 13 keys are false, then the holding party, in this case, the Democrats, will lose.

Lichtman told the Journal that Biden has provided Democrats with seven keys so far: the incumbency, no significant primary contest, no recession during the election, a strong long-term economy based on real per capita economic growth compared to the average of the previous two terms, major policy changes, no major scandal directly pertaining to the president, and an uncharismatic challenger.

If Harris were to become the new nominee, Democrats risk losing two of those keys Biden secured: the incumbency and the primary contest.

“Biden steps aside, they lose obviously the incumbency,” Lichtman told the Journal. “And it’s not at all clear that there wouldn’t be a big party fight.”

Lichtman said the only highly unlikely scenario in which Harris could maintain the same keys Biden has is if Biden steps down from the presidency now, giving the White House to the VP just a few months before the election.

He said Harris would obtain the incumbency key, and Biden could then release his delegates to his VP to secure the contest key.

A spokesperson for the Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lichtman has predicted election outcomes since Ronald Reagan secured his second term against Democratic challenger Walter Mondale in 1984. The only election he missed was in 2000, when he predicted Al Gore would secure the presidency, although the historian argued that he predicted correctly that Gore would win the popular vote.

In 2021, Lichtman told The Miami Herald that he believed Trump would not make a successful political comeback in 2024, citing some of the former president’s flailing businesses and financial troubles at the time as well as the fact that Trump is not the incumbent.


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