Thursday, June 24, 2021

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: 2024 Parallels?

Some history-minded folks are now looking back to the terms
of President Grover Cleveland (1885-89 and 1893-97) because
he is the only person to serve in two non-consecutive terms.
But those doing so are not finding other parallels for s possible
2024 outcome. Cleveland was a Democrat, and won the popular
vote in all three of his presidential elections (losing narrowly
the electoral college vote to Republican Benjamin Harrison in

Other folks are looking back to the attempt of President
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) to win a non-consecutive third
term in 1912 as a third party nominee, but although Roosevelt
got more popular and electoral votes than the GOP incumbent
William Howard Taft, he came in a distant second to Democrat
Woodrow Wilson (who clearly would have lost to Taft had
Roosevelt not been running).

In fact, throughout the history of U.S. presidential elections,
the most that third party candidates accomplish is to enable
underdog major party nominees to win as happened in 1860
with Abraham Lincoln, in 1912 with Wilson, in 1968 (perhaps)
with Richard Nixon, in 1992 (probably) with Bill Clinton, and
in 2000 with George W. Bush.

2024 is very far away politically. The 2022 national mid-term
elections will be quite important as a voter test of Biden
administration policies and results. Because of his age, Mr.
Biden could be the first modern president to retire voluntarily
after one four-year term. (Presidents Theodore Roosevelt,
Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman each was only elected
once, but each also filled out most of the term of a president
who died in office.)

Historical parallels seem harder to come by these days. Old
patterns are replaced. John Kennedy was the first Catholic to be
elected president; Ronald Reagan the first movie star to win the
top job, Geraldine Ferraro the first woman vice presidential
nominee (and the first Italian-American on a national ticket),
Joe Lieberman the first Jewish vice presidential nominee,
Barack Obama the first black president, Mitt Romney
the first Mormon presidential nominee. Hillary Clinton the first
woman presidential nominee,  Donald Trump the first TV
celebrity president, and Kamala Harris the first black woman
vice president.

In 2016, 2020 and almost certainly in 2024, both parties fielded,
or will field, serious presidential candidates with a great variety
of religious, racial, gender, ethnic and occupational backgrounds
and heritages.

Since every voter belongs to multiple interest groups (e.g., a
female Catholic Hispanic physician) and has views on a variety
of “hot button” issues (e.g., abortion, guns, political correctness,
etc.), the stereotypes of the past have mostly evaporated. Further
complicating presidential election forecasting and use of past
history patterns is the recent surge of media bias and inaccurate

In short, looking ahead to 2024 is more speculative than such
activity has ever been.

The odds might better at a local race track.

Copyright (c) 2021 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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