and that will be the first time this has been true since . . . class? anyone? Bueller?
Try 1952. That’s right, its been 56 years since we held a presidential election in which neither of the nominees for president was an incumbent in the executive branch.
What does that mean? Not sure. The powers of incumbency are formidable. Media attention, staff assistance, executive travel perks, just to name a few. The prestige of being President or Vice-President is intangible, but obviously significant. Only three incumbent presidents lost (Ford in 1976, Carter in 1980, Bush 41 in 1992). Six won. But of the four vice presidents who ran, only one succeeded in being elected president (Bush 41).
Here’s the list (from memory):
1952 Eisenhower vs. Stevenson
1956 Eisenhower (President) vs. Stevenson
1960 Nixon (Vice President) vs. Kennedy
1964 Johnson (President) vs. Goldwater
1968 Humphrey (Vice President) vs. Nixon
1972 Nixon (President) vs. McGovern
1976 Ford (President) vs. Carter
1980 Carter (President) vs. Reagan
1984 Reagan (President) vs. Mondale
1988 Bush 41 (Vice President) vs. Dukakis
1992 Bush 41 (President) vs. Clinton
1996 Clinton (President) vs. Dole
2000 Gore (Vice President) vs. Bush 43
2004 Bush 43 (President) vs. Kerry
2008 Clinton? vs. Thompson?
I can do the list from memory, because, with the exception of the 1952 and 1956 elections, I have memories of all these campaigns. My political memories are sharp and clear. My belief that there are political solutions to our problems is growing increasingly dim.
Director, Schaeffer Study Center