The Unfinished Presidencies: Why Incumbent Presidents May Lose Their Re-Election Bids

Luis Miguel da Vinha, Niklas Ernst


With the conclusion of the 2016 presidential election in the US, presidential scholars have shifted their attention not only to the Trump presidency, but also towards his possible re-election campaign. Throughout the history of the United States incumbent presidents have usually won their bid for a second term in office. The presidency offers incumbents several inherent electoral advantages – e.g., party nomination and unified party base, name recognition and political experience, access to government resources. However, some incumbent candidates have been unable to capitalize on these advantages. The current paper analyzes the electoral bids of Presidents Ford, Carter, and Bush, identifying the factors that can invalidate the advantages intrinsic to holding the office of President of the United States.


incumbency advantage; party nomination; political experience; name recognition; presidential elections; “Rose Garden” strategy


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