- Party mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than it did after the previous midterm elections. Says Lichtman, "Even back in January 2010 when I first released my predictions, I was already counting on a significant loss." Obama loses this key. So does Hoover.
- Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination. Says Lichtman on Obama's unchallenged status, "I never thought there would be any serious contest against Barack Obama in the Democratic primary." Obama wins this key. So does Hoover.
- Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president. Easy win here for Obama. So does Hoover.
- Third Party: There is no significant third party challenge. Obama wins this point. So does Hoover.
- Short term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign. Here Lichtman declares an "undecided." Hoover loses this one.
- Long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms. Says Lichtman, "I discounted long term economy against Obama. Clearly we are in a recession." Obama loses this key. So does Hoover.
- Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy. "There have been major policy changes in this administration. We've seen the biggest stimulus in history and an complete overhaul of the healthcare system so I gave him policy change," says the scholar. Another win for Obama. Well, Hoover also delivered what was then the biggest stimulus in history, the largest tax increase in history, and some sizeable innovations in the banking system, so I guess we call this one for Hoover as well.
- Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term. Says Lichtman, "There wasn't any social unrest when I made my predictions for 2012 and there still isn't." Obama wins a fifth key here. Hoover loses.
- Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal. "This administration has been squeaky clean. There's nothing on scandal," says Lichtman. Another Obama win. Also Hoover.
- Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs. Says Lichtman, "We haven't seen any major failure that resembles something like the Bay of Pigs and don't foresee anything." Obama wins again. Hoover too!
- Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs. "Since Osama bin Laden was found and killed, I think Obama has achieved military success." Obama wins his eighth key. Tempting to call Hoover's negotiations on German war debt and his mediation of Latin American border disputes a substantial success, but I'll say he loses this one.
- Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero. Explains Lichtman, "I did not give President Obama the incumbent charisma key. I counted it against him. He's really led from behind. He didn't really take the lead in the healthcare debate, he didn't use his speaking ability to move the American people during the recession. He's lost his ability to connect since the 2008 election." Obama loses this key. So does Hoover.
- Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero. Says Lichtman, "We haven't seen any candidate in the GOP who meets this criteria and probably won't." Obama wins, bringing his total to nine keys, three more than needed to win reelection. I'd say FDR was pretty charismatic, so Hoover loses this one, bringing his total to six keys, apparently just enough to secure his re-election.
How Do Obama's Re-Election Chances Stack Up to Hoover's?
According to a forecasting model that has successfully predicted every election since Reagan, Obama is a cinch in 2012.