James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The power of inexperience

Last week, I predicted Mrs. Clinton would beat Mr. Trump. Two trends seemed to offset each other in the contest. One is that the ticket with more Ivy League degrees wins, and the other is that the "outsider" wins.

While wrong on the prediction, I underestimated just how great a handicap being a Washington "insider" is. The fact is, people don't like a lot of Washington experience in their President.

Only four times in the last fifteen years did someone with more Washington experience prevail in a Presidential election, and all of them were incumbents. They are in bold. Three were incumbents and the other was a sitting Vice President.

Three other incumbents had, even when counting their first four years in office, spent fewer years overall in Washington than their opponent. They all prevailed. Three other incumbents lost, all to candidates with no DC experience.

Three sitting vice Presidents also lost to candidates with fewer year in DC.

The only elections without an incumbent or a sitting vice President were in 2008 and 2016.

2016: Trump over Hillary Clinton
2012: Obama over Romney
2008: Obama over McCain
2004: GW Bush over Kerry
2000: GW Bush over Gore*
1996: Bill Clinton over Dole
1992: Bill Clinton over GHW Bush
1988: GHW Bush over Dukakis
1984: Reagan over Mondale
1980: Reagan over Carter
1976: Carter over Ford
1972: Nixon over McGovern
1968: Nixon over Humphrey
1964: Johnson over Goldwater
1960: JFK over Nixon

Going further back would take more research than I desire. (Who ran against Harding?) But it seems that unless the Presidential election has an incumbent, the "fresher face" has always been preferred for decades.

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