NPR logo Obama's A One-Termer (Not Necessarily): Political Scientists

Election 2010

Obama's A One-Termer (Not Necessarily): Political Scientists

For those who think the Democrats' dismal midterm-election results spell doom for President Obama's political fortunes and pretty much guarantee he will be a one-termer, political scientists Larry Sabato and Alan Abramowitz say: not so fast.

In a wry piece on Sabato's Crystal Ball blog, which they write as though they accept the Obama doubters' view that the president won't win re-election, they cleverly provide facts that make the opposite case, that history provides enough examples of presidents who endured bad midterms to win re-election.

Here's an excerpt of what Sabato and Abramowitz, at the University of Virginia and Emory University, respectively, wrote with their tongues firmly in their cheeks:

Historically, incumbent presidents who have sought another term have won them by a two-to-one margin. Those aren’t impressive odds. How many of us would bet on a horse with minimal chances like that? Since 1900 only one incumbent president whose party captured the White House from the other party four years earlier (Jimmy Carter) has been beaten. The other incumbent losers—Taft, Hoover, Ford, and the senior Bush—were from a party that had held the White House for two or more consecutive terms. But the key is that Carter and Obama are practically twins; both won the Nobel Peace Prize. Enough said...

Article continues after sponsorship

The piece is worth checking out for the scatter plot graph alone.