Next year’s presidential election will probably be the first since 1952, and the second since 1928, where neither the incumbent President nor the incumbent Vice-President will be a candidate (unless of course Bush and Cheney are successfully impeached and convicted, and/or there is a series of convenient deaths). President Bush, having served two terms, can’t run again under the 22nd Amendment; Vice-President Cheney, who will then be 67, is not being discussed as a candidate.
Of course, part of this is that it is now almost certain that there will in fact be a Vice-President at the time of the election. 13 of the 29 elections from 1812 to 1924 took place with no incumbent vice-president, due to the death of either President or Vice-President in the meantime. (In 1832, Vice-President Calhoun resigned but not until after the election – in which President Jackson was re-elected, but Calhoun wasn’t – had taken place.) Since then, it has only happened twice (in 1948 and 1964) and thanks to the 25th Amendment it would take pretty bad luck for the Vice-Presidency again to be vacant for very long.
Also Presidents are now serving longer terms, and more likely to be re-elected. Although all but one of the first five presidents served two terms (thus averaging 7.2 years in office), from John Quincy Adams to Warren G Harding, 24 presidents served in just under a century, an average of four years and one month. But the thirteen presidents since Harding, not counting Bush, have served for an average of almost six years. And the incumbent was re-elected eleven times out of the 22 elections since Harding’s death, compared to only five times in the previous hundred years.
OK, on with the day…