In 55 Presidential elections since the first in 1789, there have been 7 men who have run for President and failed, who subsequently ran again and were elected to the Presidency. Of these 7 men, only one (Richard Nixon) accomplished this feat in the 20th Century. In fact, except for Nixon, no one has managed to do it since 1892, when Grover Cleveland was elected.
As they say on the TV ads, past performance is no guarantee of future results, so there's no saying that Gore couldn't run and win, but it does look a bit like the realities of contemporary Presidential politics are against him.
The men who did it are:
John Adams - ran 1789 and 1792, elected 1796
Thomas Jefferson - ran 1796, elected 1800
John Quincy Adams - ran 1820, elected 1824
Andrew Jackson - ran 1824, elected 1828
William Henry Harrison - ran 1836, elected 1840
Grover Cleveland - ran 1888, elected 1892
Richard Nixon - ran 1960, elected 1968
You'll note that besides being the only contemporary candidate to pull this off, Nixon's the only one to do it without being winning in an election immediately following one he lost in.
When I'm a little less bleary-eyed, I'll try to compile a list of all the candidates who ran in more than one Presidential election. In the meantime, take a look at this list of Presidential rankings. The consensus seems to be that Warren G. Harding was our worst president, followed by James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce and Andrew Johnson. George W. Bush is currently listed at #22 (just below Clinton at #21) but there's no way that position's gonna hold -- he's got nowhere to go but down. (Whereas in the middle of the pack is probably the right place for Bill.)
P.S. I'm inclined to think Gore shouldn't run, that it would be too hard for him to win. I don't have anything much against him, except that he ran a lousy campaign and he's generally a weak candidate, despite his current resurgence. We should remember that the election was Gore's to win, and that Bush was only able to steal it because Gore allowed it to get close enough to steal. That doesn't exactly speak to Gore as being a great candidate to hang our hopes on.
Update: In comments, Roger Keeling has a good rebuttal:
And as for Gore: first, he WON the 2000 election. He WON. Okay? And unlike quite a few folks out there, Gore has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to learn from mistakes. He may be "lackluster" as a campaigner -- I know, I know, a violation of your belief that we should "cast" our candidates -- but I suspect he'd run a vastly better race next time out. Especially since he could count on something that didn't exist last time: a well-entrenched infrastructure of bloggers and their readers, and alternative media, that now understand the urgency of IMMEDIATE response to every burp that comes from the Mighty Rightwing Wurlitzer. That was utterly missing in the 1990s, but has emerged now and -- hopefully -- will continue to find ways to counter the rightwing hate machine out there.
In TODAY'S environment, I think Gore would have an excellent chance of winning again ... and this time, by a margin big enough to drown out any rightwing electoral fraud. (Not to mention that if the new Democratic Congress does what it should, there will be some solid election reforms in place by the 2008 elections anyhow).
I truthfully worry that, with Al out of the equation, Democratic ranks are a bit thin for a run on the White House next time. We have a slew of great people coming up through the trenches, now, thanks to Dean's 50-state strategy. But it will take some years for those folks to season, and for the real winners to emerge. Right now, who realistically do we have ready and able to run? Hilary? Yeah, she's gonna do it, and I hope to hell she loses. Edwards? He's all but vanished. Who on our side has the intellectual heft, name recognition, and experience to make a serious run? And of that list, who would you really like to see up there?
Good points, but I would hesitate to overestimate the influence of the lefty blogosphere based on this last election, which was much more about widespread disatisfaction with the morass of Iraq than anything else. That happened to resonate with the lefty blogosphere's concern, but if the electorate was on a different wavelength, I doubt online progressive activism would have much influence at all, certainly not as much as the Mighty Wurlitzer, or even, really, one component of it, talk radio.
[See Roger's response, and further continuation of the discussion, in Comments.]
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
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Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.