What's the easiest way to be elected president?

2009-01-21 2 min read

    Answer: Be elected for a first term, the second term will follow.

    It turns out it’s pretty likely that a president will be elected to a second term. If we examine all previous Presidential Elections, we will see 8 presidents who failed to get reelected:

    Benjamin HarrisonFailed to get reelected in 1892
    George H. W. BushFailed to get reelected in 1992
    Herbert HooverFailed to get reelected in 1932
    Jimmy CarterFailed to get reelected in 1980
    John Quincy AdamsFailed to get reelected in 1828
    Theodore RooseveltFailed to get reelected in 1912
    William Henry HarrisonFailed to get elected in 1836
    William Howard TaftFailed to get reelected in 1912

    On the other hand, if we look at all presidents with 2 or more terms, we only see a few Presidents who have failed to get elected. Some of these, like Andrew Jackson, failed to get elected initially but were then able to get 2 terms in office. Grover Cleveland had non consecutive terms in office. In total, there were 16 presidents who had a second term.

    Abraham Lincoln
    Andrew JacksonFailed to get elected in 1824, was elected in 1828 and 1832
    Bill Clinton
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    George W. Bush
    George Washington
    Grover ClevelandFailed to get reelected in 1888 (was pres in 1884 and 1892)
    James Madison
    James MonroeFailed to get elected in 1808, was elected in 1816 and 1820
    Richard NixonFailed to get elected in 1960
    Ronald Reagan
    Thomas JeffersonFailed to get elected in 1796
    Ulysses S. Grant
    William McKinley
    Woodrow Wilson

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for, and won, a 3rd term in 1940 using the idea that one should "not change horses in midstream." He did not need to do that since it seems people stick with what they are comfortable with.

    Note: If I made a mistake anywhere let me know so I can correct it. The data was retrieved from Wikipedia.