How U.S. Presidents Win Re-Election

Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

Donald Trump now faces a House of Representatives that is controlled by a Democratic majority. The ongoing partial government shutdown is a first test for the main players involved in this new constellation. This being said, the new situation doesn’t necessarily mean that Trump cannot win re-election. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all lost their first mid-term elections and went on to winning a second term two years later. In fact, most U.S. presidents win re-election. However, at least two of them, Reagan and Clinton, considerably moved to the political center in order to achieve that. After losing the mid-terms, they reached key strategic decisions and made considerable changes in their communication and positioning. While these may have been very important, another factor is probably even more important. Reagan, Clinton, and Obama for that matter, all benefitted from an improving economy during their respective re-election campaigns. What political consulting hero James Carville famously said in 1992 therefore rings truer than ever: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

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