This Just In: Bush Wins!

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This Washington Post piece lays down early, heavy odds that Dubya gets a new lease at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

Historically speaking, it should belong to President Bush. Since the presidential primary system became influential in 1952, an incumbent president has never lost a reelection bid if he did not face significant opposition in the primaries.

This is no nugget of political trivia. Political strategists and historians say an incumbent president's lack of primary opposition is a measure of how much support he has from his base of core supporters—and therefore how much leeway he has in appealing to the political center, the key to general election victory. Of course, historical patterns do not always repeat themselves, but Bush's strength among his base means the Democrats will have extraordinary difficulty dislodging him from office.

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  1. There’s all sorts of patterns in Presidential races, and some of them might actually be meaningful predictors, but none are ironclad laws.

    The pattern usually goes like this:

    Not since (fill in date) has a (sitting president/sitting VP) lost to a (insert type of candidate here) during a period of (insert conditions here).

    Or:

    Not since (insert date here) has somebody won the presidency without winning in (insert specific state or group of states here) when running against (insert characteristics of opponent here).

    Or:

    Not since (insert date here) has a candidate won the presidency with a background as (insert most recent and/or highest previous office here) unless running in (insert conditions of anomalous election here that enable us to push the original date in this sentence back even further).

    This thread is of the type “Since 1952, no incumbent President has lost a re-election bid without facing a high profile challenger in his party’s primary.”

    My personal favorite gem is “No President directly descended from another President has ever won the popular vote.” It’s great because you just have to sweep under the rug the fact that in 1824 (John Q. Adams) there wasn’t a real popular vote tally (not all electors were directly elected, and those who were directly elected weren’t always pledged), and it cleverly excludes the Roosevelts (who were distant cousins or something like that).

    I also like the factoid that Missouri has always picked the winner for some incredibly long stretch. Maybe we should just cancel the election everywhere except Missouri…

    Meaningless trends are fun!

  2. nobody mentioned that bush will lose because he is stupid and looks like a monkey

  3. Every prez elected in a year ending in zero…blah blah blah

  4. No president elected in an odd year has ever won re-election.

  5. In the for what it’s worth dept, I was just going through some old emails to delete whatever wasn’t too juicy to have to save, and I came across some election 2000 group emails from Naderite friends claiming that Bush’s election would end up getting people so mad it would energize the left in the future. I would say youth would excuse such ideas, only these friends weren’t all that young.

  6. “I believe exit polling was never wrong until Florida in 2000.”

    It was not wrong then, either. The exit polling predicted a very slight, less than 1% victory for Gore. Which is what happened. Regardless of the rules you would use in a recount, the Palm Beach County Buchanan vote alone demonstrates that more people chose Gore than Bush.

    So exit polling hangs on by a fingernail.

  7. No presidential candidate I have ever voted for has won the election, EVER. So the candidates better start sending those checks now, or i just might vote for them. And I want more than four measley pounds.

  8. What the Post fails to point out is that opposition in the primaries to an incumbent President is a modern phenomenon that may have run its course.
    McCarthy’s challenge in 1968 did cause LBJ to step down rather than run for re-election. But McCarthy did not get the Democrat nomination,which went to LBJ loyalist Hubert Humphrey (HH).
    The main effect of Buchanan’s challenge in 1992 was to keep conservatives in the Republican Party rather than going into the Taxpayers Party or Libertarian Party.
    Ronald Reagan’s challenge in 1976 is the only insurgency that came close to victory, partly because Gerald Ford had not been elected.
    A primary challenge for a Presidential nomination faces long odds; if the challenger actually drives the incumbent from office, he faces a split party himself.
    The real choice for anti-Bush Republicans is to vote Libertarian or other third party, or to vote Democrat to ensure Bush’s defeat. That is why there is no challenger to Bush in the GOP.

  9. who challenged Carter in 1980?
    Wait, was it Ted Kennedy?
    (Don’t blame me, I was only 3!)

  10. Wasn’t this the same point in the ’92 race that Bill Clinton wasn’t even on SNL’s “Who wants to lose to Bush?” skit, instead being represented by Tipper Gore?

    That Washington Post- what a card…

  11. Agreed Sir Real:
    It’s the same people who like the beatles and U2 and REM that take these stories as gospel, too (That was a good SNL sketch. Along with the “I suspect there will be a lot of things we don’t tell Mrs. Clinton” one)

  12. Who ran against Bush I in ’92? Buchanon? Does that really count?

  13. ’92 had Perot, so that kinda screws this sort of logic up. (Perot won my high school’s mock election, which just goes to show why they don’t let teenagers vote. Or maybe it’s just that Arizonans are insane.)

  14. Yes, Arizonans are insane, and thank god for that!

  15. Anderson won our school’s mock election back in 1980.
    Go figure.

  16. But Bush doesn’t deserve a pass! Won’t some, principled limited government, conservative step up and challenge “President Moderate Liberal”? Please!

  17. Probably important to remember that no republican president since ’52 (and probably ever)came closer to not being president in the first place.
    However, as wars tend to get the populace to “rally ’round” the CiC, we’re probably doomed to another four years. (As opposed to being doomed to four years of some other big govt. politician)

  18. …Ok,Ok. I know, maybe not so “moderate” of a liberal.

  19. Maybe it means libertarians are missing out on fertile recruiting grounds at high schools.

  20. Go back a little farther: Beginning with Benjamin Harrison in 1896, every incumbent Republican who tried but failed to get elected to another term, lost to a present or former Democratic governor. The only Democratic governor to get his party’s nomination but fail to unseat an incumbent Republican president was Adlai Stevenson in 1956.

    Bodes well for Howard Dean, provided the Democrats nominate him.

  21. I believe exit polling was never wrong until Florida in 2000. So there is always a first for something. As it was told on MNF lastnight, records are made for breaking.

  22. preparedness or not…..
    i can’t think of anyone else that i which to be in control of protecting my family in my town,my state,in my country.
    ………a new guy will learn, i feel voters (myself included) deem to high risk and low caliber choice selection in finding a leader with the required “tenacity and singularity of direction to hold our shores…………..do i sound scared?……..should i be?..”

  23. By the same standards, Gore should’ve been unbeatable in 2000 (veep of a popular president during a time of peace and prosperity).

    Bush ain’t very popular now for a variety of reasons. If the Demoncrats don’t self-destruct, any actually viable candidate they nominate at least has a fair shot at the race.

  24. Bush’ll probably win, but I’m even more certain this “research” is meaningless.

  25. Yeah nice try, the historical predictors also say when a presidents job approval rating is as crappy as the idiot in office’s is that he’ll lose.

    Bush is simply too incompetent to remain President in such trying times.

  26. Yeah nice try, the historical predictors also say when a presidents job approval rating is as crappy as the idiot in office’s is that he’ll lose.

    Bush is simply too incompetent to remain President in such trying times.

  27. Yeah nice try, the historical predictors also say when a presidents job approval rating is as crappy as the idiot in office’s is that he’ll lose.

    Bush is simply too incompetent to remain President in such trying times.

  28. Yeah nice try, the historical predictors also say when a presidents job approval rating is as crappy as the idiot in office’s is that he’ll lose.

    Bush is simply too incompetent to remain President in such trying times.

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