18:22 GMT +322 January 2020
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    Today marks one year since Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential election. The question of whether the upstart could or would win a rerun of that vote twelve months on, however, is up for debate.

    On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump shocked pollsters, analysts, journalists and citizens the world over by winning the US presidential election.

    One man wasn't shocked by Trump's victory, though — Professor Allan Lichtman, an American political historian, who has correctly predicted the outcome of every US Presidential election since 1984.

    His forecast was widely published, most notably in a September 23 Washington Post article, entitled, Trump is Headed for a Win.

    ​While the prediction was generally met with ridicule, Trump himself sent Professor Lichtman a handwritten note following his triumph, scrawled on a printout of that very Washington Post article.

    "Professor — congrats — good call," it said.

    ​Lichtman based his prediction on his own "13 Keys" system, which focuses on 13 metrics such as the economy and charisma, which the Professor regards as fundamentally "make or break" in any election.

    While midterm election results are one of the keys, and they are they to be held, others cover popularity, foreign and domestic policy successes and failures, social unrest and scandal.

    The Most Popular Unpopular President

    Ever since Trump's inauguration January 20, Gallup has published daily polls gauging the President's approval ratings among US citizens'.

    On the surface, the figures are dire — by almost any average metric, Trump is the most unpopular president since World War II. His approval ratings stood at 45 percent upon his inauguration, but quickly began to fall, the figures have fluctuated ever since, reaching a low of 33 percent in October, and not exceeding 40 percent since May.

    ​However, deeper analysis reveals a more complex picture. Among Republicans, Trump remains very popular indeed — in fact, they have remained in the low to mid 80s since January. While his approval among Democrats has rarely hit double figures, it has stood in the low — mid 30s among independents.

    This may represent a "grand coalition" of the kind that propelled the real estate magnate to the Oval Office in the first place — indeed Gallup monitored Trump's popularity prior to the election, and his unpopularity among voters is roughly the same a year on as it was then. 

    'Crooked' Hillary

    Professor Lichtman may have been in an extreme minority, but he was not a lone voice. The Trafalgar Group not only forecasted Trump's win, they exactly predicted his eventual margin of victory.

    ​The political consultancy attributed their forecast to "shy" Trump voters, who kept their true affiliations secret from peers and pollsters alike, and the enduring popularity of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

    Prior to the vote, Clinton and her supporters endlessly reiterated a variety of claims of Russian meddling in the election — from hacking the Democratic National Convention's email servers, the dissemination of fake news, clandestine relations between Moscow and her opponent, the hidden hand of the Kremlin was allegedly ubiquitous.

    Ever since her shock defeat, the failed presidential candidate has continued to propound such conspiracy theories, again without substantiating evidence — and has repeatedly attributed her loss to Russian skulduggery.

    ​However, in the same period it has been revealed the controversial dossier produced by research firm Fusion GPS that alleged US President Donald Trump was little more than a Kremlin puppet, which circulated prior to the election, was funded by Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

    ​The Justice Department is also mulling an investigation into a potentially corrupt uranium deal signed by Clinton with Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom, while serving as Secretary of State under Barack Obama's administration.

    Clinton has denied any personal involvement in the decision, although there are suggestions the Clinton Foundation may have received a substantial donation in return for her signing off on, or turning a blind eye to, the deal.

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a rally outside the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning November 7, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
    © AFP 2019 / Brendan Smialowski
    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a rally outside the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning November 7, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    Ukraine and the Manafort Indictment

    Moreover, in Ukraine, a criminal investigation has been launched into potential collusion between President Petro Poroshenko's government and the Clinton campaign in the leadup to the election. ​

    In particular, the question of whether Ukrainian officials' exposure of alleged payments in excess of US$12 million by Ukraine's deposed President Viktor Yanukovych to Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is being probed, on the basis it may have been part of a smear plot.

    ​Manafort previously worked for Yanukovych's Party of Regions until the leader was overthrown in the violent 2014 Maidan coup — after the ex-President fled the country, officials claimed to have discovered extensive lists of payments from the Party to various individuals, Manafort being one.

    Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Donald Trump's national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S. (File)
    © REUTERS / Brendan McDermid
    Paul Manafort, senior advisor to Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Donald Trump's national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S. (File)

    His signature however, does not appear anywhere in the ledgers, the documents have not been verified, and he denies receiving any illegal disbursements.

    Special Investigations

    It's not merely in Ukraine where such allegations are being scrutinized — a US watchdog has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging the DNC violated election rules by conspiring with Ukrainian government officials to compile information on Trump.

    Senate judiciary committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has also asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to examine whether Alexandra Chalupa, a former DNC consultant, violated laws governing work with foreign governments by failing to register her cooperation with the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.

    ​Chalupa is alleged to have told Ukrainian Embassy officials if enough information on Manafort or Trump's involvement with Russia could be fabricated, Congress would hold a hearing "by September" — she also met House Democrat Marcy Kaptur's staffers to discuss a Congressional investigation.

    Circulation of false material on Trump's fictional Russian connections would, she said, "not only benefit" the Clinton campaign, the Ukrainian government too.

    The irrepressible barrage of allegations concerning Russia's involvement in Trump's win has led to a special counsel investigating them.

    ​After several months, and millions of dollars spent, no tangible corroboration of any of the allegations has been uncovered.

    Despite this, Trump may be unable to shake off the perception that he is a tool of the Kremlin — and Professor Lichtman, the very man who predicted Trump's win, has written a book foretelling the president's impeachment.


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    collusion claims, election meddling, Russiagate, election campaign, 2016 US Presidential election, Trump administration, Republican Party, Democratic National Convention, Democratic National Committee, Democrats, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, United States, Ukraine, Russia
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