Predicting Presidential Elections: A Sports Model

This article outlines the basic premises of using a quantitative predictive model based on Guido Bonatti’s rules of warfare for the prediction of US presidential elections.

Copyright 1997 J. Lee Lehman

Reprinted from Horary Practitioner Volume 9 #23, 1998.

In the May/June issue of the Astrological Journal, Bernadette Brady and I published a model for sports prediction based on Bonatti’s rules of war.(1) In addition to the specific model that we published, we have both independently applied variations on this model to other sports. As we encountered with cricket and the US Super Bowl, the typical success rates achievable are on the order of 70%. I should also add that we predicted the outcome of the cricket matches between England and Australia played last Summer. Our predictions scored well above the expected values.

Having adapted this model to a number of other games, including the more general case of 1st-7th types (our original piece discussed 1st-4th games, in which a trophy is held and defended, in the manner of Medieval castle besiegement), it has occurred to me that this work can go in two different directions. First, these methods may be adapted to other sports, or related enterprises such as financial offerings, producing an increasing number of situations in which astrological techniques can participate in the prediction matrix. Second, as we develop increasing confidence in these predictive models, the models in turn may be applied to the testing of astrological theories. The purpose of this article is to apply the latter method to a particular mundane problem: predicting the outcome of the US Presidential elections.

Outline of the Circumstances and the Problem

The timing of the US Presidential elections is mandated by our Constitution: an election shall be held every four years on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. This immediately restricts the dates to November 2nd – 8th: a solar range from 9-16 Scorpio. However, because the Founding Fathers did not entirely trust the electorate, the actual outcome is not by popular vote: instead the voters actually elect a slate of Electors within each state: people who are not federal office Holders who are pledged to a party. These people gather in each respective State House on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December to cast their votes. This group collectively is known as the Electoral College. On three occasions – 1824, 1876, and 1888 – the Electoral College has not followed the popular vote.

The President is actually inaugurated several months later. Until a Constitutional Amendment ratified in 1933, the President was inaugurated on March 4th of the following year. Since the 1936 election, it has been January 20th.

The first President, George Washington, was elected unopposed. He technically belonged to the Federalist Party, but in the early days of the nation, party affiliation was relatively unimportant. In the first few contested elections, the principal opponents might even be members of the same party. This situation changed in 1828 with the election of Andrew Jackson.(2) Jackson invented the “spoils system” in the US: the party that wins kicks out a substantial portion of the upper echelon of the Civil Service, replacing them with people loyal to the party in power. Up until this change, party differences were actually philosophical. Increasingly afterwards, party affiliation had economic consequences. This system still differs from countries such as Britain, which has a Civil Service completely independent of the party in power.

We can reasonably postulate that political parties are analogous to the armies of a war, and thus, that a model derived from the astrology of war should have a good chance of characterizing the outcome of an election. However, this brings us to the problem at hand: which mundane technique or techniques best predict the outcome of an election?

Under the political system just explained, I can nominate the following possibilities for predictive techniques:

1. A Great Conjunction Chart. Actually, there are two possible candidates: the Mars-Jupiter, or the Mars-Saturn conjunctions. The Mars-Saturn chart was especially common in ancient usage.(3) The reason that we would restrict the possibilities to these two is that they each have a frequency such that there will be at least one conjunction between each successive election. Using the style of delineation common for these conjunctions, the method would be to calculate which of the two planets has the most dignity: that planet “wins.” Thus, we could either take Mars as the Challenging party, for example, and say that if Mars is stronger, then the Challenger wins. Otherwise, we could assign Mars to one of the parties, and either Jupiter or Saturn to the other, and then predict the outcome based on which party is thusly considered stronger.

2. An Election Day Chart. The only problem here is: what time? Unlike the UK, each state sets the voting hours, and with a country encompassing five time zones, this can be a problem. A previous researcher in this area, Sylvia De Long, used a solar chart.(4) This is not a bad idea, since typically the polls on the East Coast open sometime around 7:00 am, and dawn in Washington, DC, the presumed candidate for locating the chart, experiences dawn at approximately 6:45 am EST at this time of year. The other obvious option is a midnight chart, an idea getting increasing credence since the town of Dixville Notch, NH started opening their polls at just after midnight. In either case, we would go to a 1st-7th House war model, with the Challenger Party as the 1st House and the Holding Party as the 7th.(5)

3. The Prior Solar Eclipse. In this study I have actually amended this slightly to be: prior to, or within one week of the election. Again, this would be studied as a 1st-7th competition.

4. The Prior Lunation. For purposes of definition, “prior” would mean up to the midnight beginning Election Day. I used either the Full or New Moon, whichever occurred closer to the election. This was treated as a 1st-7th competition.

5. The Prior Libra Ingress. Actually, one could make a case for the other prior Ingresses as well, but this is the one immediately prior to the election, so it seems the most appropriate. This was evaluated as a 1st-7th competition. However, a variant of this idea was also studied. In Lilly’s work Annus Tenebrosis(6) , he discusses a method for determining how long after the Ingress of the Year (i.e., the Aries Ingress) events will transpire. This was done by examining the quadrant of the Moon. If the Moon was in the 1st Quadrant from the 12th to the 10th House, the effects would occur almost immediately. If in the 2nd Quadrant from the 9th to the 7th, after 3 months, but before 6 months, and so forth, around the chart. The significance of this observation is that if the Moon is below the Horizon, the effects will not take place for at least six months. In this case, the only Ingress chart for the year which is active is the Aries Ingress. If the Moon is in the 1st Quadrant, all four Ingress charts will be necessary to interpret the year; if the Moon is in the 2nd Quadrant, then the Aries and Libra Ingresses will be necessary. Therefore, to test this idea, I also tested the Aries Ingress, and used it if the Moon was below the Horizon, and used the Libra Ingress if the Moon was above the Horizon.

6. The Electoral College Meeting. The date is determined, but again, what about the time? In analogy with corporate charts, I chose noon. This was studied as a 1st-7th competition.

7. The Inauguration. The date is determined, and the time is traditionally noon. In fact, since the Constitutional Amendment of 1933, the outgoing President’s term is defined as ending at noon. This brings up the interesting case that since 1936, even if the Oath of Office was given prior to noon, the chart for the term could not begin before 12:00:01. A number of natal astrologers have advocated this chart, basically as a transit to the two candidates’ natal charts. The theory, somewhat cynical, is that the loser’s chart will look like a golf vacation on this day, while the winner’s will look stressed. This was evaluated as a 1st-7th competition.

Before presenting the results, one consideration should be mentioned. Normally in war charts, two angles are assigned to each combatant. The Challenger’s primary angle is the Ascendant, and the secondary is the M.C. The Holder’s primary angle is the Descendant, and the secondary is the I.C. This idea can be seen especially clearly through the castle besiegement theory that was discussed in my previous piece with B. Brady: the Holder was generally understood to be holding the land, which is clearly a 4th House matter. Margaret Meister suggested an alternate interpretation to me, however. She pointed out that in an election, the Holder is actually “holding” the 10th House: after all, the President is the 10th House in a mundane chart! Thus, the points for planets in houses were adjusted to reflect an advantage for the ruler of the 1st being in the 4th, or the ruler of the 7th in the 10th.


The results are summarized in Table One.

Table One. Percentage of Correct Predictions by Method. Total of 51 contested elections. All charts calculated for Washington, DC.

% Correct
Mars-Jupiter conjunction
Mars-Saturn conjunction
Sunrise Election Day
Midnight Election Day
Prior Solar Eclipse
Prior Lunation
Prior Libra Ingress
Aries or Libra Ingress
Electoral College – Noon
Inauguration Day – Noon

In my experience working with various games, the model is basically not working unless the results are 2/3 or better. There are only two systems this level of result: the prior lunation, and Midnight Election Day.

There are, nonetheless, a few interesting observations, apart from the aggregate results. For example, the distribution of results according to whether the prior lunation was New or Full is shown in Table Two.

Table Two. Distribution of wins according to Phase angle used.

New Moon
Full Moon
Holder wins
Challenger wins

Clearly, the Holder is favored in the New Moon scenario, which seems counter-intuitive to expectation. However, the effect is strong enough to justify building it into the predictive model.

The second distribution worth mentioning occurs in one of the sets that was not otherwise predictive: the solar eclipse set. This observation concerns the actual house placement of the eclipse. This is shown in Table Three.

Table Three. Win-loss distribution according to house placement of eclipse


1st 4th 7th 10th
5 2 5

 Holder  Challenger

In this set, having the eclipse itself in either the 4th or the 10th House seems to favor the Holder, while the distribution across the Ascendant-Descendant axis has no apparent effect. Discussion Perhaps the most heartening portion of this exercise is that at least some mundane charts can be verified as providing accuracy in prediction. The other charts may be valid in other situations, if not the US Presidential election. Personally, I would have preferred that the Mars-Saturn conjunction had been predictive, since the traditional purpose to the Mars-Saturn cycle was to predict the ascendancy of the type of evil for the next three years – rather like addressing which is the necessary evil for a period of time! Let us return briefly to Table Two to analyze the data in a different fashion. Summing the data for Holder vs. Challenger, we see that the holding party won 31/51 = 62% of the time. This is a much higher “home field advantage” than we encounter in most sports. If our astrological models are going to be predictive, we have to have an astrological explanation for home field advantage. Fortunately, we do. First, let’s consider the issue of Superior vs. Inferior ruling the party. Ramesey stated this idea first in his discussion about electing a time to win: make the ruler of the side you want to win a superior planet.(7) This idea, by the way, is the explanation behind the logic that Brady and I used in assigning the Sun and Moon as “Inferiors,” a style of classification not normally given to the luminaries. But for Ramesey’s rule to make sense, in any 1st-7th competition, one of the rulers is a superior, and the other an inferior. I have presented the data for the methods outlined as Table Four. Table Four. Number of cases in which the Holder is the superior planet.

# %

Sunrise Election Day
0  0
Midnight Election Day
 51  100
Prior Solar Eclipse
 31  61
Prior Lunation
 30  59
Prior Libra Ingress
 29  57
Aries or Libra Ingress
 30  59
Electoral College - Noon
 0  0
Inauguration Day - Noon
 51  100

These results give some pause. Clearly, the cases of 0 or 100 % beg to have this rule ignored completely, because then there is absolutely nothing predictive about the superior-inferior rule at all. What of the other three? The eclipse data is actually the most problematic, because the astronomy of solar eclipses at this latitude has produced a most interesting result. The data actually falls into four discrete periods, as shown in Table Five.

Table Five. Periods of consecutive Holder ruler being superior or inferior, 1796-1996.

Superior	1796-1836	11 elections
Inferior	1840-1892	14 elections
Superior	1896-1964	18 elections
Inferior	1968-1996	8 elections and counting

This consecutive distribution does not match the style of back and forth election winners: thus, the consideration for superior-inferior fails in the case of the solar eclipse chart.

However, there are other factors which can produce a result. The most important is diurnal clustering. The location of the Sun in a chart is a statement of time of day. Thus, for the noon charts of the Electoral College or Inauguration, the presence of the Sun near the M.C. will also place Mercury and Venus nearby, and generally Mars as well, because Mars’ distribution is strongly dependent on the solar location (the so-called “Mars-Dawn effect” that the skeptics attacked in the Gauquelin work). Thus, the “home-field” advantage can be easily explained astrologically by planetary clustering around an angle held by the 7th House side.

The other factor that comes into play is dignity. For example, in the midnight Election Day charts, the 1st House is always ruled by the Sun, a planet which typically lacks all dignity but Face in the degree range in Scorpio in which it occurs. It then rests upon Saturn, the ruler of the Descendant, to save the day. Thus, in order to account for such factors as home-field advantage, known factors that pull the expected results away from 50-50, we must carefully consider the ramifications of any model we propose. Further, we must be prepared to adjust the model appropriately to account for what are basically astronomical factors.

Finally, we should reconsider another issue: the contention of Sylvia De Long that her system of comparing the relative strength of Jupiter and Saturn produces phenomenally accurate results. Does it?

De Long began her study with 1856, the first year that the race was between the Democrats and Republicans. (In contrast, this study begins with 1796). De Long used the following components to determine strength: rulership, exaltation, detriment, fall, retrogradation, mutual reception, elevation, house placement, and disposition. This is a very neat system, one which begs to be investigated further. However, because absolute point values to the components of the model were not assigned, the author can emphasize one component at will over another, producing the known results. While I doubt she did this consciously, a descriptive model is too easily adjusted in hindsight, and too confusing in foresight. The factor used most consistently is elevation, and especially the presence of one of the significators in the 10th House, and that especially demands future study. De Long presents only two unequivocal exceptions to her model, with the comment, “While it is to be desired that a system should work 100 %, such perfection is not to be found in most disciplines.”(8) Desirable maybe, but realistic? Because she does not approach her model as statistical or probabilistic in nature, her one unequivocal prediction – that the Democrats would win in 1984 – looks silly in retrospect, and this allows easy dismissal of a very important contribution to mundane study: a model which, with further effort, may yet yield successful quantitative results. The challenge of a non-quantitative model is shown too clearly by De Long’s second future chart: the 1988 election. While the situation was clear (but wrong) for 1984, the chart for 1988 was mixed according to her model, like a large portion of charts. De Long evaded this by suggesting that the reader, who should not be quite conversant in the method, should be able to determine the result! So Jupiter, while the more elevated, it is in detriment, and in the 7th House, which she says doesn’t work all the time, yet it disposes Saturn… the problem is obvious.

However, one empirical observation may not be clear from this discussion of quantitative models: the point differential between the two sides is not predictive of a correct outcome. In other words, a point spread of +5 to -3 is no more likely to be correct than 1 to 0. Some games -or elections – simply do not work according to the model, and there is no “hint” presented for which charts will not work.

By presenting probabilistic models as I have here, or in the sports model with Brady, we are not dependent on any one outcome. We put ourselves in the position of a betting or trading strategy that makes money over time, but not necessarily with any particular bet or trade. Isn’t this more than enough?


1. Bernadette Brady & J. Lee Lehman. 1997. 12th Century Castle Besiegement in Sport. Astrol. Jnl 39(3): 27-44.

2. Jackson had been the victim of the first case of the Electoral College ignoring the popular vote in 1824, when the College elected John Quincy Adams, who received 105,321 votes to Jackson’s 155, 872.

3. See, for example, Richard Edlin. 1668. Observationes Astrologicae, or an Astrological

Discourse of the Effects of a Notable Conjunction of Saturn and Mars. Billingsly & Blagrave: London.

4. Sylvia De Long. 1982. Charting Presidential Elections. AFA: Tempe, AZ.

5. The justification for 1st House as Challenger is made very clear by Ramesey: “the Ascendant… signifie him or them that begin the quarrel or controversie.” Astrologia Restaurata; or Astrology Restored: Being an Introduction to the general and chief Part of the Language of

the Stars. 1653: Reprinted by Just Us & Associates, Issaquah, WA: 1996, page 179.

6. Lilly, William. 1652. Annus Tenebrosis, or the Dark Year and An Easy and Familiar Method Whereby to Judge the Effects depending on Eclipses, Either of the Sun or Moon. Company of Stationers: London.

7. Ibid., page 179.

8. Ibid., page 18.