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| | |-+  Incumbency: Is the 'incumbency advantage' overrated? Can it be a disadvantage?
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Author Topic: Incumbency: Is the 'incumbency advantage' overrated? Can it be a disadvantage?  (Read 732 times)
NYC Millennial Minority
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« on: September 01, 2018, 07:42:13 pm »

Here are my thoughts.

When it comes to primaries at the local, state, and national level, incumbency poses a huge advantage. Name recognition is one of the most important factors in primaries, after all. This advantage is arguably even larger at the state and Presidential levels. Off the top of my head, I can name a few cases of House Reps getting primaried out (Crowley, Brat, Sanford), but I'd need to do some research when it comes to Senators and Presidents. I suppose Luther Strange might count for the Senate. This especially applies when conditions are going well for the incumbent. I can't think of a case where someone managed to primary out a popular incumbent.

However, when it comes to the general election, I think that incumbency doesn't mean as much. I'd also argue that it can be a real disadvantage if conditions are bad, and in those cases nominating a fresher face can be more advantageous. For instance, Ted Kennedy arguably would have performed better than Carter did in 1980 due to the fact that he wouldn't be tied to the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Now, IIRC Carter was initially leading Reagan in the polls, so you could attribute that to incumbency, but that was probably moreso the fact that Reagan still had the perception of an extremist, and required months of hard campaigning along with negative conditions in order to close the gap. Ford is an example of the opposite - an incumbent who started out at a disadvantage due to the anti-establishment mood of the country who almost worked himself up to closing the massive gap between him and Carter.

One could also argue that the incumbency advantage doesn't mean as much when the country is polarized. The last two incumbent Presidential elections - Obama in 2012 and Bush in 2004, were relatively close, though that was arguably because neither were incredibly popular at the time. In contrast, 1996 was a solid victory for Clinton. If you buy the 'Ross Perot ruined George HW Bush's chances' theory, then it took a high performing third party vote splitter to get HW to lose.

You can argue that incumbency is a huge advantage in the general when things are going well. 1984 and 1972 and 1964 produced landslide victories for the incumbent. You have a high percentage of the non-partisan electorate thinking "the person we have right now is doing fine, why rock the boat?" I don't think we'll have landslides as high as those in the current environment, but 2020 could see Trump having a same "2016 states +a few additional" if things are going well for him. Conversely, it could be close to an Obama 08 style victory for the Democrats if things go the other way.
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2018, 08:43:48 pm »

Statistics shows that sitting Presidents regularly win elections. Ford and Carter have been few exceptions since 1950s when 22 amendment came into force.
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2018, 08:00:06 am »

Incumbency is an advantage unless (1900 on, implying also chances of an incumbent running for a third term for which he is Constitutionally eligible  )

1. one's party splinters (1912)
2. one's grand dream of foreign policy implodes (1920)
3.  the economy collapses (1932)
4. a war goes badly (1952, 1968)
5. one is an incompetent campaigner for President (1976)
6. a gross embarrassment happens in foreign policy (1980)
7. one has no idea of what to do in a Second Term (1992)

I see multiple reasons for Donald Trump to lose a re-election bid: extremism, corruption, abuse of power, and perhaps a trade war that goes badly.

 
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Cory Booker
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2018, 02:29:49 pm »

The Congressional map has been stacked against the GOP and Mitch McConnell has been so unpopular, just like Boehner. With a Dan Quayle type of Veep, like Pence, Trump chances of being reelected are small.
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2018, 08:20:38 pm »

Incumbency is a tremendous advantage, at the Presidential level for the following reasons:

1.  Incumbents get to set the agenda, more than anyone else.  Challengers are always responding to the agenda the incumbent sets.

2.  Incumbents are presumed to have the experience to do the job; challengers have to prove themselves as a rule.

3.  The incumbent's entire party is tied to the success or failure of the incumbent, whereas a Herman Talmadge or a Ben Sasse can distance themselves from a McGovern or a Trump and get away with it.

Of course, an incumbent can be an idiot or corrupt and forfeit these advantages.
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2018, 01:27:15 am »

Incumbency is an advantage unless (1900 on, implying also chances of an incumbent running for a third term for which he is Constitutionally eligible  )

1. one's party splinters (1912)
2. one's grand dream of foreign policy implodes (1920)
3.  the economy collapses (1932)
4. a war goes badly (1952, 1968)
5. one is an incompetent campaigner for President (1976)
6. a gross embarrassment happens in foreign policy (1980)
7. one has no idea of what to do in a Second Term (1992)

I see multiple reasons for Donald Trump to lose a re-election bid: extremism, corruption, abuse of power, and perhaps a trade war that goes badly.

 

Ford ran probably the best losing campaign by any candidate since maybe Hughes in 1916.


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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2018, 06:46:59 pm »

Statistics shows that sitting Presidents regularly win elections. Ford and Carter have been few exceptions since 1950s when 22 amendment came into force.

Statistics involving Presidential elections and "fundamentals" are next to worthless, because the sample size is way too small.
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2018, 01:49:01 pm »

Hoover was the only president in modern era to lose Congress and the 1st term of a president. Trump, will follow that persuit. He was a 3rd term Dubya and he has the same approvals as Dubya as he left office. Like Pappa Bush, Pence, is again, another Quayle who didn't want to stand reelection in 2016, as Gov
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2018, 02:38:46 pm »

Statistics shows that sitting Presidents regularly win elections. Ford and Carter have been few exceptions since 1950s when 22 amendment came into force.
Statistics also show the incumbent party is likely to lose the presidency in years ending in '0' (see: 2000, 1980, 1960) since the end of the Second World War, and a president who lost the popular vote in his first election has only a 1 in 4 chance of being reelected.
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