A long line of losers in the White House

One little noted trend in recent presidential politics is that the winning candidates all experienced an election loss at some point in their political careers.  One has to go back to Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to find a successful candidate for president who did not have an electoral loss (and there is evidence he stole his first election to the Senate from Coke Stevenson).  But Johnson had experienced a major political setback.  He had been roundly defeated by John F. Kennedy in his attempt to obtain delegates for the 1960 presidential nomination.  (Johnson had not entered any of the 16 primaries that year, relying only on the caucus/convention insider road to the nomination.)  Indeed, Kennedy is the last U.S. president who had no political setbacks at all on his road to the White House.

Consider the list.  Obama was crushed 2 to 1 in his 2000 primary challenge to Congressman Bobby Rush.  George W. Bush failed his 1978 run for Congress.  Bill Clinton used to joke he was the nation's youngest ex-governor after losing his 1980 bid for a second term in Arkansas.  He ran again two years later and then held the office until he was elected president in 1992.  George H.W. Bush lost the race to be the 1980 Republican presidential nominee as well as a 1970 U.S. Senate bid.  Ronald Reagan failed to win the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and again in 1976.  Jimmy Carter had the humiliating experience of a third-place finish in the 1966 Democrat primary in Georgia.  That set up a string of events that helped elect the last man Carter probably wanted to see as governor: populist segregationist Lester Maddox.  And in 1962 after losing the election to be governor of California, Richard Nixon famously noted to the media, "You don't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."

The one president during this period not on the above list is Gerald Ford, whose road to the White House was by appointment, not election.  Note that Ford was narrowly defeated when he attempted to win a term on his own in 1976.  That loss was the only one in Ford's political career.

It seems that an earlier defeat might help focus the mind on how to win future elections.

Thomas Lifson adds: If this trend is to continue, it will be Jill Stein in the Oval Office.  Trump, Hillary, and Gary Johnson never lost an election.

Update: Silly me. I am reminded that Hillary did lose her bid for the Democratic nomination to Obama.  But she was never defeated at the polls. 

One little noted trend in recent presidential politics is that the winning candidates all experienced an election loss at some point in their political careers.  One has to go back to Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to find a successful candidate for president who did not have an electoral loss (and there is evidence he stole his first election to the Senate from Coke Stevenson).  But Johnson had experienced a major political setback.  He had been roundly defeated by John F. Kennedy in his attempt to obtain delegates for the 1960 presidential nomination.  (Johnson had not entered any of the 16 primaries that year, relying only on the caucus/convention insider road to the nomination.)  Indeed, Kennedy is the last U.S. president who had no political setbacks at all on his road to the White House.

Consider the list.  Obama was crushed 2 to 1 in his 2000 primary challenge to Congressman Bobby Rush.  George W. Bush failed his 1978 run for Congress.  Bill Clinton used to joke he was the nation's youngest ex-governor after losing his 1980 bid for a second term in Arkansas.  He ran again two years later and then held the office until he was elected president in 1992.  George H.W. Bush lost the race to be the 1980 Republican presidential nominee as well as a 1970 U.S. Senate bid.  Ronald Reagan failed to win the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and again in 1976.  Jimmy Carter had the humiliating experience of a third-place finish in the 1966 Democrat primary in Georgia.  That set up a string of events that helped elect the last man Carter probably wanted to see as governor: populist segregationist Lester Maddox.  And in 1962 after losing the election to be governor of California, Richard Nixon famously noted to the media, "You don't have Nixon to kick around any more, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference."

The one president during this period not on the above list is Gerald Ford, whose road to the White House was by appointment, not election.  Note that Ford was narrowly defeated when he attempted to win a term on his own in 1976.  That loss was the only one in Ford's political career.

It seems that an earlier defeat might help focus the mind on how to win future elections.

Thomas Lifson adds: If this trend is to continue, it will be Jill Stein in the Oval Office.  Trump, Hillary, and Gary Johnson never lost an election.

Update: Silly me. I am reminded that Hillary did lose her bid for the Democratic nomination to Obama.  But she was never defeated at the polls.