Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Photos
American creator F. Scott Fitzgerald as soon as wrote that “there are not any second acts in American lives.”
But it’s already assumed Donald Trump will go on to a subsequent act in a single kind or one other.
Will he begin his personal media firm? Function a GOP kingmaker?
There are even rumblings that he’ll determine to run once more for president in 2024. Having served just one time period, he’s constitutionally eligible to strive for an additional.
If he does determine to run once more – and if he wins – he’ll be in uncommon firm.
Just one American president has misplaced reelection after which received again his workplace: Grover Cleveland. Within the American elections course that I educate, college students be taught particulars in regards to the long-term political impacts of those comeback efforts, most of that are workout routines in futility.
‘Gone to the White Home, ha ha ha’
The late Nineteenth-century political setting resembled right this moment’s in some ways: tight polarized elections, robust regional patterns in nationwide voting, comparatively excessive voter turnout and adverse campaigning.
Cleveland, a Democrat, had been governor of New York for lower than two years when his occasion nominated him for president in 1884. As governor, he had gained a status for preventing Tammany Corridor corruption in New York Metropolis.
In the course of the 1884 marketing campaign, wherein Cleveland ran towards Republican James Blaine, a scandal erupted when a New York girl named Maria Halpin accused Cleveland of raping and impregnating her. She was ultimately institutionalized and compelled to surrender her little one for adoption. Cleveland disputed a few of the particulars of the story, and his supporters countered jeers of “Ma, ma, the place’s my pa?” with chants of “Gone to the White Home, ha ha ha.”
Common Photos Group through Getty Photos
Cleveland ended up successful the nationwide well-liked vote by a slim margin – 48.85% to 48.28% – and received 219 electoral votes to Blaine’s 182. Cleveland’s base of assist was within the South and in his residence state of New York, whereas Blaine did effectively in the remainder of the North. Voter turnout was excessive, estimated at 77.5% of the voting-age inhabitants.
Throughout Cleveland’s time period, tariffs grew to become a divisive partisan concern in American politics. Republicans favored larger tariffs to guard Northern manufacturing pursuits, whereas Democrats like Cleveland usually wished decrease tariffs to assist the South’s agricultural export-oriented pursuits and to decrease costs for customers.
When Cleveland ran for reelection in 1888, he confronted off towards Republican Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland once more received the nationwide well-liked vote by a decent margin, however misplaced two states – Indiana and New York – that he had received in 1884. It was sufficient to flip the Electoral Faculty and permit Harrison to be elected president.
Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG through Getty Photos
After dropping the election, Cleveland returned to work as an lawyer in New York. Underneath President Harrison, Congress accepted the McKinley Tariff and the Sherman Silver Buy Act, every of which have been strongly opposed by Cleveland.
In 1891, after two years of avoiding the general public highlight, Cleveland once more grew to become politically energetic and began to vocally oppose the financial insurance policies of Harrison. Cleveland attracted some nationwide consideration that yr with a public letter indicating his persevering with assist for the gold commonplace.
As Cleveland met with occasion leaders and made some public speeches in 1892, nationwide Democratic assist for his presidential nomination started to develop. By the point the Democratic Nationwide Conference met in June that yr, assist for Cleveland had grow to be overwhelming, and he secured the nomination.
With Populist Celebration candidate James B. Weaver on the poll pulling votes from each main occasion presidential candidates, Cleveland received the nationwide well-liked vote for the third straight election, this time besting Harrison by a 46% to 43% margin and successful the Electoral Faculty.
Attempt, strive once more
Whereas Cleveland has, to this point, been the one U.S. president to lose reelection after which come again and win, different presidents have tried and failed.
In 1840, Democratic President Martin Van Buren misplaced reelection. He tried to be renominated by his occasion in 1844, however Democrats as a substitute selected James Polk. By 1848, Van Buren joined with a gaggle of disaffected Democrats and anti-slavery activists to grow to be the nominee of the Free Soil Celebration, which opposed the extension of authorized slavery to U.S. territories. Whereas Van Buren received 10% of the nationwide well-liked vote and completed second in New York, Massachusetts and Vermont, he received no Electoral Faculty votes.
Van Buren is the one president apart from Cleveland to be renominated by his occasion, lose reelection after which seem once more on ballots as a presidential candidate.
Three different presidents additionally made tried comebacks to regain the presidency after leaving workplace.
In 1852, President Millard Fillmore, who had ascended to the presidency after the dying of Zachary Taylor, made a halfhearted try and win the Whig Celebration nomination for a full time period. When he failed, he got here again 4 years later because the presidential candidate of the American Celebration, higher referred to as the “Know Nothings,” a political motion to limit Catholic immigration to america. Fillmore received over 21% of the nationwide well-liked vote, the second-best efficiency by a third-party presidential candidate in American historical past and received Maryland’s electoral votes.
The most effective efficiency by a third-party presidential candidate in American historical past was additionally by a former president, Theodore Roosevelt. In 1912, he ran for the Republican presidential nomination towards his extra conservative protege, President William Howard Taft. When Roosevelt did not get his occasion’s nomination that yr, he ran because the Progressive Celebration candidate.
After being shot at a marketing campaign rally through the month earlier than the election and surviving, Roosevelt bought 27% of the nationwide well-liked vote and 88 electoral votes, ending far forward of Taft in each vote tallies – however effectively behind the winner, Woodrow Wilson.
The final American president to lose reelection and try and run for president once more was Herbert Hoover, who was unsuccessful in each 1936 and 1940 at persuading different Republicans to let him lead the occasion once more after he misplaced in a landslide in 1932.
Richard Nixon made a special form of political comeback.
He misplaced the presidential election of 1960 whereas serving as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s vice chairman after which went on to lose the 1962 California gubernatorial election. After the 2 losses, Nixon famously advised the press, “You received’t have Nixon to kick round anymore.” However the press did get one other whack at Nixon when he ran for president a second time – and received – in 1968.
Bettmann through Getty Photos
The final try at a political comeback by a defeated president was a really transient effort by Gerald Ford, who had misplaced reelection in 1976, to barter the potential of being Ronald Reagan’s working mate through the 1980 Republican Nationwide Conference. The plan fell via, and Ford returned to personal life.
As soon as out of workplace, most ex-presidents keep out of the highlight and keep away from criticizing their successor. Whether or not or not President Trump makes an attempt a political comeback in 2024, it’s seemingly that he received’t keep mum over the following 4 years.
[Get our most insightful politics and election stories. Sign up for The Conversation’s Politics Weekly.]
Robert Speel doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that will profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.