What goes around… (Republican chances in 2016)

(It’s not too early to think about 2016, right?)

Today my Republican friends are crying and my Democrat friends are celebrating.  Chances are, though, that their situations will be reversed in four years.

During the modern era of presidential politics, following the FDR-Truman elections (FDR in 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, Truman in 1948), here’s the record for incumbent presidents seeking election or re-election:

Eisenhower 1956 – WON

Johnson 1964 – WON

Nixon 1972 – WON

Ford 1976 – LOST

Carter 1980 – LOST

Reagan 1984 – WON

Bush (41) 1992 – LOST

Clinton 1996 – WON

Bush (43) 2004 – WON

Obama 2012 – WON

That’s a record of 7 out of 10 for incumbents (70%).  Of course, Johnson and Ford had succeeded to the presidency, so they were not seeking re-election.  Remove them from the mix, and you get a re-election record of 6 out of 8 (75%).

Now take a look at instances in which a political party, rather than an individual, was seeking a second consecutive term:

Eisenhower 1956 – WON

Johnson 1964 – WON

Nixon 1972 – WON

Carter 1980 – LOST

Reagan 1984 – WON

Clinton 1996 – WON

Bush (43) 2004 – WON

Obama 2012 – WON

That’s a record of 7 out of 8 (87.5%).

Contrast that record with cases in which a party sought a third consecutive term:

Nixon 1960 – LOST

Humphrey 1968 – LOST

Ford 1976 – LOST

Bush (41) 1988 – WON

Gore 2000 – LOST

McCain 2008 – LOST

Only once since FDR in 1940 has a party won a third consecutive term (Bush 1988) – a record of 1 in 6 (16.7%).  No party has won a fourth consecutive term.

It’s difficult to beat an incumbent president, but it’s even more difficult to beat a political party seeking a second consecutive term in the White House.

On the other hand, it’s relatively easy to beat a party seeking a third consecutive term, which means there’s a good chance that Republicans will be celebrating, and Democrats crying, the night of November 8, 2016.

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