Skip to comments.History Shows: Odds Against Obama's Second Term
Posted on 03/28/2012 6:05:09 AM PDT by Kaslin
A version of this column appeared originally in THE DAILY BEAST.
As he campaigns for re-election, Barack Obama pursues a profound and uncommon honor denied to nearly two-thirds of his predecessors. Contrary to a widely held popular belief, political history doesnt anoint incumbent presidents as automatic winners or even presumptive favorites. The numbers show that most presidents fail in their efforts to maintain a long-term hold on the affections of the fickle public and that Obama will face an uphill struggle in attempting to reprise his epic victory of 2008.
Of the 42 men who served as president before the current incumbent, only 15 won two consecutive elections.
Among the others, 5 died during their first terms, 7 incumbents declined to run, 5 tried but failed to win their partys nomination, and 10 won the nomination but lost their bids for re-election. Whats more, three former presidents (Martin Van Buren, Millard Fillmore and Theodore Roosevelt) attempted to make comebacks and roared out of retirement as third party candidates; all three of them failed miserably in November, winning between 10 and 27 percent of the popular vote.
The numbers look even worse for second terms if you remove the early cocked hat presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe) who easily won re-election before the emergence of the modern two-party system. Washington and Monroe, for instance, both eased into second terms without campaigning and without facing even token opposition. With these early chief executives withdrawn from the equation, 70 percent of those who have served as president since 1825 (26 of 37) failed to win two consecutive terms.
Some of these one-termers counted as obvious failures, rejected by big majorities of their contemporaries and winning scant respect from historians. Even at the time, no one expected John Tyler, James Buchanan or Andrew Johnson to renew their leases on the White House. But other presidents who lost bids for a second term played big roles in history and have earned many admirers throughout the generations. If Barack Obama fails in his bid for re-election, he will join such estimable predecessors as John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Grover Cleveland (who came back from his second-term loss to win a non-consecutive victory), William Howard Taft (who returned to Washington as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) and George Herbert Walker Bush.
Moreover, two powerful presidents generally labeled great or near great by historians found themselves nonetheless thwarted in their ambitions to win re-election. Both Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson served as Vice Presidents who succeeded to the presidency upon the death of wildly popular incumbents (Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy), then won a full term in their own right. Widely expected to seek re-election, both men fared poorly in early primaries (Truman actually lost in New Hampshire to the little known Tennessee Senator Estes Keefauver) before withdrawing as candidatesand insisting that theyd intended to withdraw all along.
Of the fifteen presidents who prevailed in winning two consecutive terms (or four, in the case of FDR) nearly all of them count as historical giants and successful, significant chief executives. The only two arguable exceptions would be Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) and George W. Bush (2001-09), and prominent academics have recently led a major resurgence in Grants historical reputation while Bush admirers await a similar re-evaluation for that undeservedly reviled war leader.
In considering the chances for Obamas re-election, its obvious that he doesnt count as either a sure loser with a thin or non-existent list of accomplishments, nor does he qualify as an obvious winner with a Rushmore-ready profile and a resume of immortal achievements. In other words, President Obama wont experience the resounding rejection that doomed the re-election hopes of Franklin Pierce, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter, nor will he register the inspiring vote of confidence that gave Jackson, Lincoln, FDR, Ike and Reagan back-to-back victories.
Despite the attempt at apotheosis by the glowing new, Tom Hanks-narrated documentary The Road We Have Traveled, Barack Obama cant run as that sort of triumphant titan; nor need he hide as the feckless, dreary disgrace of conservative propaganda. He clearly occupies some middle ground among first termers, suggesting a fierce, closely contested battle against his all-but-certain opponent, Mitt Romney.
The long, sour, discouraging GOP primary battle has produced soaring Democratic hopes that the public will overcome all doubts and embrace Obama due to fear and loathing of the Republican alternative. But the inevitable course of the re-election struggle will make the race a referendum on whether the public wants another four years like those theyve just experienced. Clearly, this particular race could go either way, but history shows that whenever once-elected presidents seek a second chance, more often than not the people say no.
The McCain/Palin ticket was up ++4 to 10 pts
in some polls, days prior to Election 2008.
So rather than helping the GOP, Romney and
TeamROMNEY and the RNME (Republican National Media Establishment)
decided to attack Gov. Palin to throw Election2008.
Romney, and the Van der Sloot RNME RINOs for Obama in 2008
Late in October, The American Spectator's The Prowler revealed:
"Former Mitt Romney presidential campaign staffers
have been involved in spreading anti-Palin spin to reporters, seeking to diminish her standing after the election.
'Sarah Palin is a lightweight, she won't be the first, not even the third, person people will think of when it comes to 2012,'
says one former Romney aide
'The only serious candidate ready to challenge to lead the Republican Party is Mitt Romney.
"Some former Romney aides were behind the recent leaks to media, including CNN, that Governor Sarah Palin was a 'diva' and was going off message intentionally."
The Palmetto Scoop reported: "One of the first stories to hit the national airwaves was
the claim of a major internal strife between close McCain aides and the folks handling his running mate Sarah Palin."
"Im told by very good sources that this was indeed the case and that a rift had developed, but it was between Palins people and the staffers brought on from the failed presidential campaign of former Gov. Mitt Romney, not McCain aides."
"The sources said nearly 80 percent of Romneys former staff was absorbed by McCain and these individuals were responsible for what amounts to a premeditated, last-minute sabotage of Palin."
aides loyal to Romney inside the McCain campaign, said The Scoop, reportedly saw
that Palin would be a serious contender for the Republican nomination in 2012 or 2016, which made her a threat to another presidential quest by Romney.
"These staffers are now out trying to finish her off .hoping it would ingratiate themselves with Mitt Romney."
"Who's the Palin Leaker from the McCain Campaign?
National Review Online The publication of a Vanity Fair profile of Sarah Palin
appears to have opened old wounds in the McCain campaign.
... the source of the Diva leak was Nicolle Wallaces husband."
I hope history is right about Obama’s second term and wrong about Romney.
Yes, but odds were against his first term too. Don’t sell him short.
The only thing that can put Obama back in the White House is the total ineptness of the Republican party in picking a qualified candidate.
So far Republicans are shining at that.
We have a liberal from Massachusetts
A nut case
A boy with his foot in his mouth
A brilliant man who couldn’t keep it in his pants.
I go for Newt, but it looks bad for him right now.
55% to 45%, President Obama in 2013.
The fix might be in comrades.
I think prominent Democrats are shiite-ing themselves over their polling internals, and are desperately fishing about for some way to kick Barry to the curb.
Michal Savage may be right. The Korean Open Mic incident may be the opening salvo in a backstabbing campaign.
More nanny state voters now than 4 years ago. Obama’s plan is working perfectly.
Not sure how nervous they are...
If he were a white man, there is ZERO chance he would win a second term, but Obama has racism in his deck of cards.
The Republican party headquartered in Washington, D.C. has a long record of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but let's not overlook the looter class. When half of American adults have been excused from paying federal taxes and millions of Americans get government "freebies," lots of people believe they have a vested interest in another win by the Big Government party and another loss by America.
What history does not take into account is today’s rampant voter fraud.
I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is thiswho will count the votes, and how. - Stalin, 1923
With the media complicit and Holder running Injustice, he will need to lose by a wide margin.
So much is so different and unique to the present.... that I don't know if we can look to former situations as any kind of indicator.
It's all going to be a real crap shoot... I don't think that Conservative candidates have taken enough advantage of how different our current situation is or of what an abjectly poor showing “O” has made.... either by default, omission of mismanagement!! There is a gold mine in reminding America just how badly "O" has done in his first 'term'
” - - - and 10 won the nomination but lost their bids for re-election. “
” - - - only 15 won two consecutive elections.”
The sum of those incumbents who won their party’s nomination according to the above quotes is then 25.
In other words, 15 out of 25 incumbents won two consecutive terms, or 60 % of the incumbents got re-elected.
Dictator Baby-Doc Barack then has a 60 % chance of being re-annointed as High Poo-Bah of Obamanation - - -
BTW, I haven’t taken my shoes and socks off to check the math, so if any of my FRiends can prove me wrong, I would be DELIGHTED that you did so.
Didn't zer0 effectively blurt this to Medvedev the other day? Something to the effect of he'll do this and that 'after he wins re-election'?
Exactly. I agree 100%. Obama is a virtual 'shoo-in' for a second term.
Absurd comment. Clinton is a historical giant? He is a midget.