What it’s like to lose a presidential election

9 mins read

The American public could not discover out who wins the presidential election on Nov. 3 or Nov. 4 and even Nov. 5. But, sooner or later, we’ll study whether or not Republican Donald Trump is elected to a second time period or if Democrat Joe Biden would be the subsequent president.

For the winner of the election, the second of victory brings unbridled pleasure and acclamation, applause, laughter, hugs and champagne to celebrate the biggest prize in politics.

This isn’t so for the loser, who should in the end settle for the duty for the defeat.

The winner is ecstatic – the loser isn’t. AP Photo/Byron Rollins

In my e-book, “The Art of the Political Putdown,” I inform the story of Thomas Dewey, the Republican presidential candidate in 1948, who was closely favored to win the election – solely to lose to Harry S. Truman, the incumbent.

On election night time, in accordance to one story, Dewey, the governor of New York, requested his spouse, “How will it feel to sleep with the president of the United States?”

“A high honor,” his spouse replied, “and quite frankly, darling, I’m looking forward to it.”

But Truman gained the election. The subsequent day at breakfast, because the story goes, Dewey’s spouse mentioned, “Tell me, Tom, am I going to the White House or is Harry coming here tonight?”

A disappointing letdown

George McGovern misplaced the 1972 presidential election to incumbent President Richard Nixon. Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report collection, Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

Losing the presidency is a crushing defeat. The incalculable hours of giving speeches, campaigning and fundraising got here to naught. The candidate feels like they’ve disillusioned the tens of millions of people that believed in them, who contributed to the marketing campaign, who voted for them and who thought they have been going to win.

The ache related to dropping the presidential election stays for a very long time. A dozen years after George McGovern misplaced the 1972 presidential election in a landslide to Richard Nixon, he was requested how lengthy it had taken for him to get well. “I’ll let you know when I get there,” McGovern mentioned.

After dropping the 2008 presidential election, John McCain mentioned he slept like a child: “Sleep two hours, wake up and cry,” he mentioned, including, “sleep two hours, wake up and cry.”

In 2016, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton awakened on Election Day forward in many of the polls and thought she would turn out to be the primary lady president. By the time the day was over, these hopes had pale, and by early the following morning, when she referred to as her opponent Donald Trump to concede, these hopes had disappeared totally.

“This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for,” Clinton instructed her supporters. “I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it, too … This is painful, and it will be for a long time.”

John Kerry concedes in 2004
John Kerry conceded the election to George W. Bush in 2004. Rick Friedman/Corbis via Getty Images

Concessions are tough

When a individual has dedicated a lot to working for the president for thus lengthy, it’s not straightforward to let go. In the early morning hours of election night time 2000, then-Vice President Al Gore conceded in a name to his Republican opponent, George W. Bush, then retracted the concession in one other name when the results within the decisive state of Florida appeared unsure. Thirty-six days handed earlier than Bush’s victory was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In her 2017 e-book, entitled “What Happened,” the title itself a assertion of disbelief, Hillary Clinton remembered calling Donald Trump to concede the election. She mentioned she supplied to assist him in any manner she might. “It was all perfectly nice and weirdly ordinary, like calling a neighbor to say you can’t make it to his barbecue,” she wrote. “It was mercifully brief … I was numb. It was all so shocking.”

The 1960 presidential election between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, the Republican vice chairman, stays one of many closest in historical past. Nixon mentioned that he was suggested by President Dwight Eisenhower to problem the outcomes due to cheating by the Democrats however refused, he mentioned, as a result of it will trigger a “constitutional crisis” and “tear the country apart.” This, he added, would end in him being referred to as a “sore loser” and jeopardize any likelihood of him working for president once more.

When Nixon ran for the presidency in 1968, he was elected after which reelected in 1972, earlier than resigning in shame in 1974. Nixon was the final one that gained his social gathering’s nomination after beforehand dropping a presidential election.

Al Gore receives the Nobel Peace Prize
Al Gore misplaced the presidency, however shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work to fight local weather change. AP Photo/John McConnico

After the loss

But if there’s little hope of a contemporary try on the presidency, dropping candidates have discovered second acts in American politics.

President Jimmy Carter, who was defeated by Ronald Reagan when he sought reelection in 1980, grew to become an international human rights activist and gained the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Gore grew to become an environmentalist and shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and a 2007 Academy Award for finest documentary for a pioneering examination of local weather change.

[The Conversation’s most important election and politics headlines, in our Politics Weekly newsletter.]

John Kerry, who misplaced to George W. Bush in 2004, grew to become secretary of state within the Barack Obama administration. John McCain, who misplaced to Obama in 2008, stayed in the U.S. Senate. Mitt Romney, who misplaced to Obama in 2012, now serves in the U.S. Senate.

The switch of energy

George H.W. Bush greets Bill Clinton
On Jan. 20, 1993, George H.W. Bush greeted the person he misplaced to, Bill Clinton, on the White House. Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Losing is tough, however dropping because the incumbent, as Carter and George H.W. Bush did, might be tougher. But Carter and Bush understood the significance of the peaceable transition of energy.

President Donald Trump repeatedly has forged doubt on whether or not he’ll settle for the outcomes of the election and peacefully hand over energy if he loses to Biden. This might properly consequence within the constitutional disaster to which Nixon referred.

In early 2020, when the Democratic primaries have been nonetheless happening, Trump once more expressed his unwillingness to vacate the White House – which drew a retort from Pete Buttigieg, who in the end misplaced the Democratic nomination to Biden. Buttigieg mentioned he had an thought for dealing with Trump, joking “If he won’t leave, I guess if he’s willing to do chores, we can work something out.”

Chris Lamb, Professor of Journalism, IUPUI

This article is republished from The Conversation beneath a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.

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