Data-focused professor shows key trends that disfavor Biden winning 2024 re-election

November 18, 2023

Though the 2024 election is still nearly a year away, it has seemingly been settled for several months now that the contest will be a rematch between incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden and Republican former President Donald Trump.

However, according to an op-ed in The Hill, there are historically proven data-driven trends that suggest that Biden -- nor Trump -- will win the presidency next year.

The op-ed was authored by Sheldon Jacobsen, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has researched election forecasting for more than 20 years and who helps develop and evaluate public policy by way of his experience with "data-driven risk-based decision-making."

"13 Keys" for incumbent presidents to retain the White House

In predicting that President Biden will not win re-election, Jacobsen pointed to what is known as "The 13 Keys to the White House," which are a set of 13 different factors that are applied to the incumbent party seeking re-election and are based on observable trends dating back to the 1860 election.

Those factors include things like party mandate, a contested primary, incumbency, viable third-party challengers, the short- and long-term status of the economy, major policy changes, social unrest, foreign military successes and failures, and the charisma of the incumbent and challenger, and if eight or more of those factors favor the incumbent president, they will win re-election.

Since being developed in the late 1980s-early 1990s by American University History Professor Allen Lichtman, the 13 Keys have been successfully used to accurately predict the outcome of every presidential election since 1984.

Biden facing a primary challenge; strong independent or third-party challengers

Unfortunately for President Biden, while some of those factors do seem to favor him as the incumbent, Professor Jacobsen pointed to a few of the 13 Keys that don't, particularly the Keys dealing with a primary contest and third-party challengers.

First, though there hasn't been much of a primary contest on the Democratic side, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) has launched a run over concerns about Biden's advanced age, and other potential candidates are said to be waiting in the wings if Biden should falter, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker -- to say nothing of the clear ambitions of California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Then there are the independent or third-party challengers in the form of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornell West, and while Kennedy would likely siphon off voters from both Biden and Trump, the far-left progressive West would solely draw his support from those voters who otherwise would most likely support Biden as the Democratic candidate.

Other unmentioned factors that disfavor Biden

Professor Jacobsen declined to delve into any of the other factors within the 13 Keys, but several of those could prove unfavorable to President Biden as the incumbent.

The short- and long-term state of the U.S. economy and the president's "Bidenomics" policies have met substantial disapproval from voters, his left-wing activist base is not shy about taking to the streets and fomenting civil unrest, and Biden's foreign policies seemingly have America on the verge of, if not already involved in, a massive Third World War with multiple fronts developing around the globe.

Finally, there is the question of charisma, and even Trump's most ardent detractors would have to acknowledge that the former president is infinitely more charismatic or viewed as a "national hero" by his supporters than Biden is concerning his own base of support.

Democrats should move swiftly to replace Biden if they want to retain the White House

"If Democrats weigh the risks and benefits of Biden running for a second term, they will realize that the sooner they pull the plug on his candidacy, the more time they will have to prepare the campaign for his replacement and the better the chance they have of retaining the White House," Jacobsen concluded.

"Every option carries with it some risks that cannot be completely mitigated," he added. "However, risks can be managed, and putting forward a viable option appears to be the most plausible pathway forward for success."

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