Washington            -      Despite being gaffe-prone, getting up in years and barely heading out on the campaign trail, Democrat Joe Biden is leading in the polls as the coronavirus epidemic and economic crisis make the November presidential election a referendum on Donald Trump.

The COVID-19 outbreak has stripped Trump of his beloved campaign rallies but he has made the most of his White House pulpit to remain in the public eye.

The 77-year-old Biden, on the other hand, has held few campaign events, spending most of his time since mid-March at home in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden’s sparse public schedule has minimized the risks of his catching the virus while at the same time reducing his chances of making any faux pas. And if the polls are any indication, the Democratic candidate’s low-key style is paying off. The election website Real Clear Politics has Biden with a 7.7-point lead over Trump nationally.  

Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University, has correctly predicted the results of every US presidential election since 1984, including Trump’s upset 2016 victory. His 2020 forecast? Biden, president Barack Obama’s two-term vice president, will win the November 3 vote.

“This has nothing to do with Joe Biden,” Lichtman said in an interview with AFP. “It’s not dependent on Donald Trump’s personality either. It’s based on the record.” The professor bases his predictions on what he calls the 13 “Keys to the White House.” Among them: How strong is the US economy? Is there social unrest? Is the president an incumbent? Is the president charismatic? Is his opponent? Of this last “key,” Lichtman says “Biden doesn’t fit that bill.” He’s a very empathetic, sincere man but he’s not inspirational,” he said.