Men Who Lost – and Then Won – Presidential Elections


There’s been a lot of talk about electability and the Democratic presidential primary. Research shows that 8 in 10 voters reject the idea that the country isn’t ready to elect a female president, but there is still a strong connection between perceived electability and gender. As BLFF’s Amanda Hunter sums it up: “When people say it shouldn’t be a woman this time, because a woman lost last time, well, men have been losing the presidency for hundreds of years.”

Not only that – voters are more than willing to elect men who have previously lost elections. Of the last 10 presidents, 3 lost presidential races before going on to be elected Commander in Chief:

  • Lyndon B. Johnson: Johnson ran during the Democratic presidential primary in 1960, losing to John F. Kennedy and ultimately becoming Kennedy’s vice-president. Johnson went on to win the 1964 presidential election.
  • Richard M. Nixon: Nixon was the Republican presidential nominee in 1960, and lost the general election to John F. Kennedy. Nixon went on to win the 1969 presidential election.
  • George H.W. Bush: Bush ran during the Republican presidential primary in 1980, losing to Ronald Reagan and ultimately becoming Reagan’s vice-president. Bush went on to win the 1988 presidential election.

Yet, no one questions the “electability” of men. Why? We don’t lump male candidates into one group in the same way we do with women candidates. Men who run for president aren’t automatically compared to every other man who’s ever run, yet it happens to women all the time.

Will having multiple women in the 2020 race change this double standard?

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