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Tags: voters | elites

Memo to Political Elites: Voters Not as Stupid as You Think

people standing at voting booths casting ballots
(Getty Images)

Ralph Benko By Wednesday, 12 August 2020 09:24 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Want to know who is going to win the 2020 presidential election? If not, stop reading now! Will Trump or Biden win? Read on or skip to the end to find out what the modern political Nostradamus predicts.

Meanwhile: Voters are not stupid. In practice, we Insiders are irrelevant to political outcomes. Our role in the ecosystem is to fill up airtime so that cable news can sell advertising. Plus we, like court jesters, make the naïve political big-dollar donors feel important. While empirical proof shows they are not, at least not as to influencing the outcome of presidential elections. The myth of Big Money distorting politics is a myth.

So, what's the joke? Once upon a time a Russian seismologist (Vladimir Keilis-Borok) and an American political history professor (Alan Lichtman) walked, metaphorically speaking, into a bar. They proceeded to identify 13 things that voters really care about. Then, they used these factors to predict the outcome of presidential elections. It works.

Their predictions turned out to be right 9 out of 9 presidential elections (popular vote, with the 2000 electoral college escaping by a handful of hanging chads in 2000) in a row. This included the wildly underpredicted, except by Lichtman and cultural critic Scott Adams, 2016 Trump upset. They then turned around and tested the same factors back to 1864. The same factors have invariably predicted the outcome of presidential elections for 120 years.

Apologies for withdrawing the drama from presidential elections. That drama turns out to be about as authentic as professional wrestling's fake animosity "kayfabe" (which I contend to be the etymological precursor to President Trump's mysterious "covfefe" tweet).

Almost none of the factors that Pundits, Talking Heads, and we Political insiders use to predict the outcome of elections matter. Not polls. Not campaign strategies. Not Super PACs. Not clever commercials such as Bill Moyer's anti-Goldwater Daisy Girl nor Lee Atwater's anti-Dukakis Willy Horton. Not FiveThirtyEight-style statistical analysis. Not Russian troll farms. Not Cambridge Analytica.

All that matters is what we-the-voters care about. No matter how cleverly political operatives spin things, we voters are fully capable of figuring out the truth. And we vote according to our values and our interests. Not campaign rhetoric or media stray voltage.

Notwithstanding the media-politico complex's quadrennial full court press of a "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing" we aren't fooled. We treat that as the infotainment while figuring out what's really up then vote shrewdly. Lichtman and Keilis-Borok figured out what we care about.

Alan Lichtman boldly stated, recently, that "Voters are not fooled by the tricks of the campaign. Voters vote pragmatically based on how well the party holding the White House has governed the country."

Flattering. Rings true.

Lichtman compiled the factors in The Keys to the White House. Per Wikipedia their pattern recognition succeeded "in correctly predicting 128 out of 150 U.S. mid-term Senatorial elections since 1986. (Keilis-Borok) also applied the method to predicting rises in murder rates in Los Angeles, recessions, spikes in unemployment and, most recently, terrorist attacks."

What are the keys?

  1. Did the party that holds the White House gain or lose House seats in midterms?
  2. Is the incumbent being primaried?
  3. Is the incumbent president running for re-election?
  4. Is there a real third-party challenger?
  5. Is the short-term economy strong?
  6. Is long-term economic growth as good as the past two terms?
  7. Has the White House made major changes to national policy?
  8. Is there social unrest?
  9. Have there been scandals?
  10. Major foreign or military failures abroad?
  11. Major successes abroad?
  12. Is the incumbent charismatic?
  13. Is the challenger charismatic?

Lichtman does the math for us.

He observes that the Republicans lost seats in the midterms. Trump is running for reelection with no meaningful primary challenger. The short-term economy is in recession. Due to the pandemic, long-term economic growth isn't as good as the previous two terms. Trump has made major changes to national policy. Only Trump's most devoted loyalists would deny the presence of scandals. America is experiencing social unrest. Trump had neither major foreign policy failures nor successes. He calls Trump a great showman but scores him, along with Biden, as uncharismatic.

The envelope please! Our modern Nostradamus calls this race for Biden.

Neither Lichtman nor I believe in predestination. He observes that there are relevant factors external to the 13 keys. I say, surely the pandemic is a wild card. One thing only is really certain.

We voters aren't as stupid as the politicos think! Politicos? We'll see you and raise you on November 3rd.

Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as general counsel to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.

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Almost none of the factors that Pundits, Talking Heads, and we Political insiders use to predict the outcome of elections matter. Not polls. Not campaign strategies. Not Super PACs.
voters, elites
Wednesday, 12 August 2020 09:24 AM
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