- In 2008, Obama is a relative "outsider," having served less than four years in Congress - and really just two years before launching his Presidential bid - and can plead "not guilty" for most of the disastrous policies of Bush's first term - which Clinton voted for. Aside from Mark Gravel, there was no other real outsider in the race - the closest was Bill Richardson, but he was very much a Washington insider in the 1990's.
- On the GOP side, McCain is an insider, and quickly defeated outsiders Romney and Huckabee.
- In 2004, Washington insider John Kerry beat the outsider Howard Dean for the Democratic nomination, but lost to a terrible incumbent.
2004: Insider vs. incumbent. Winner: Incumbent
2000: Outsider vs. incumbent VP. Winner: Outsider
1996: Insider vs. incumbent. Winner: Incumbent
1992: Outsider vs. incumbent. Winner: Outsider
1988: Outsider vs. incumbent VP. Winner: Incumbent
1984: Insider (recent VP) vs. Incumbent. Winner: Incumbent
1980: Outsider vs. incumbent. Winner: Outsider
1976: Outsider vs. incumbent. Winner: Outsider
1972: Insider vs. incumbent. Winner: Incumbent
1968: "Outsider" (former VP eight years removed from DC) vs. incumbent VP. Winner, Outsider
Before that: incumbents won every race back to 1932, except 1960 (insider beating incumbent VP) and 1952 (outsider vs. outsider).
In modern politics, incumbents have advantages. Even so, outsiders have won every race except one (1988) in which they've competed, whereas "insider" challenges to incumbents have lost all four times.
Apparently, when an insider challenges an incumbent, the impression the public gets is "either way, more of the same." Whereas "outsiders," usually stand for "changing the way Washington works" and do very well.
Why do people want "change" so much? Perhaps because the federal government hasn't accomplished one good thing for the American people in 35 years at least.
In any case, 2008 will be interesting because no incumbent will be running. It will be Outsider vs. Insider. As we've seen, the Outsider has the advantage.
Especially because he has not one, but two Ivy League degrees.