Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Presidential Primaries and Lucky--or Unlucky?--Losers

Confession: I like politics. I DON'T like politicians and their frightening inability to get anything done, but I like following the news and generally being informed. I have opinions on most issues and, of course, most candidates. I don't share these opinions often, but at this pivotal juncture of the 2020 election cycle, I thought it might be worth digging into some relevant data.

First, a bit of background: I was a registered Republican until President Trump became the leader of the party in 2016. Now I'm an unaffiliated voter who leans right or left of center depending on the issue. Since I will never, ever vote for our current president, whose character I think thoroughly disqualifies him, I've been following the Democratic nomination process with more than just a passing interest.

It occurred to me last night that voters have been nominating what I'm calling lucky losers. So what is a lucky loser? It's a candidate who finished second in a presidential primary, then went on to secure his or her party's nomination in a subsequent election cycle. There are multiple examples, including John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton, to name the most recent few. In fact, since 2004, the first presidential election in which I was eligible to vote, nearly half of the major parties' nominees have been lucky losers, as you can see below:
(i) = incumbent, (i*) = un-elected incumbent, ** = candidate who won most delegates but lost nomination
I've bolded the names of my so-called lucky losers so they're easier to spot. As you can see, Republicans have been much more likely to nominate lucky losers than their Democratic counterparts. In fact, Hillary Clinton was the first Democratic lucky loser in almost fifty years.

But what do John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton have in common? NONE OF THEM WERE PRESIDENT. Lucky losers haven't won a presidential election since George H. W. Bush in 1988, and the only other lucky loser who eventually won the presidency was Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because Bernie Sanders looks poised to become the second Democratic lucky loser in as many election cycles and, as history has taught us, lucky losers tend to lose. Now, in Bernie Sanders's case, this wouldn't make me feel too bad. As much as I admire him for sticking to his principles, I can't in good conscience endorse most of his policies. But I also can't imagine reelecting Donald Trump, which is exactly what I fear will happen if Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic nomination.


Rebecca Gomez said...

It's a sticky place for a long time Republican who can't stomach Trump to be in. Because how could a true republican support any of the current democratic candidates when each of them are against basically everything a conservative republican stands for? Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Caught between a rock and a hard place. Pick your metaphor. :-)

Krista Van Dolzer said...

I hear you, Rebecca, but I do feel like some labels--conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat--have steadily been losing meaning over the last ten years or so. For instance, fiscal conservatism has gone out the window. Presidents from both parties now spend money like crazy, and I can't remember the last time a Democrat said they'd be willing to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for an important program. At this point, I don't care what programs we have or don't have--I just want to pay for them so we don't keep running up the national debt!

TheFitBanker said...

Krista, I understand that you feel President Trump’s character is questionable and rightfully so! However, please consider the following four things and keep an open mind when voting in November 2020:

1) Government Policy that promotes a strong economy
2) Government Policy that promotes a strong military
3) Government Policy that promotes a strong America
4) Nomination of Federal and/or Supreme Court Constitutionalists

As hard as it may be, do this as a blind test looking at strictly what type of Government Policy will be instituted and what will occur if one candidate will be put in office over another candidate based on their voting record. Removing emotional thought process and leaning on fact-based Policy decisions will provide a much better standard when choosing the President of the United States. Appreciate you taking the time to read this and hopefully ponder my comments.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Thanks for these thoughts, J. You've made some good points. Policy IS important, and I certainly don't agree with every policy position put forth by the Democrats. But then, I don't agree with every policy position put forth by the current administration, either. I ended up voting for a third-party candidate in 2016 (Evan McMullin), and I could easily end up voting for a third-party candidate again if a good alternative presents itself.