So sang Abba in their 1974 hit Waterloo. And they were right. 1907, for example, was virtually the same as 1894.
So what’s it to be then?
Which election of the past is this year’s presidential election most likely to echo?
Here are the main scenarios:
1948: The Truman Show: Shock result! Electoral upset!
The precedent: Every underdog in every election prays for a repeat of the 1948 result. President Truman was universally expected to lose to his Republican opponent, the ultra-bland moustached weirdo Governor Thomas Dewey throughout the campaign. One newspaper even reported “Dewey defeats Truman” on its front page. Yet the polls were staggeringly wrong. Truman was, in fact, returned comfortably. He even gleefully held up a copy of the inaccurate newspaper for the cameras.
Is it likely?: Actually with the election so close, neither a Romney or an Obama win would exactly constitute an electoral upset. So assuming neither candidate wins by a huge margin or something insane happens, this wouldn’t be possible. Especially as neither Truman nor Dewey are alive.
1956, 1964, 1972 and 1984: President re-elected in a landslide.
All of these elections saw the incumbents (Eisenhower, LBJ, Nixon and Reagan) winning by huge margins. Nixon and Reagan both won 49 out of 50 states. Could Obama do the same?
Likely? This may have been possible when Romney was in a flap over his moronic 47% comments. But unless something dramatic happens between now and polling day (perhaps Romney will be revealed to have sold one of his elderly relatives to a powerful conglomerate) this now seems very unlikely.
1996: President re-elected comfortably but not by a landslide.
1996 saw President Clinton comfortably quashing Senator Bob Dole’s leadership bid by a 7% poll margin.
Likely?: Not too farfetched actually and probably the best result Obama can realistically hope for. Had the result gone the other way…Monica Lewinsky? And the 73 year old President Dole? Let’s not think about it.
2004: A narrow-ish win for the president.
Nobody likes being compared to George W Bush. But in 2004, he did beat Senator John Kerry by a three percent margin. And get this: he didn’t have to cheat this time!
Likely?: A narrow Obama win is currently the most likely result.
1976: A narrow win for the challenger.
After Watergate, the fuel crisis and the Nixon pardon, ex-peanut farmer Jimmy Carter achieved a very narrow win over the maladroit President Gerald Ford.
Likely: Horribly plausible. Romney could scrape home narrowly. And remember: Ford was also undone by a poor TV debate performance!
1980: A big win for the challenger.
The 1980 victory of Reagan over incumbent President Carter was decisive and seems inevitable in retrospect. In fact, it seemed much closer at the time. Carter’s diaries reveal he felt he had a good chance at winning almost to the end.
The result famously forced loon John Hinckley Junior to reconsider his plan to shoot President Carter and shoot the new president Reagan instead. All to impress the actress Jodie Foster. Who apparently wasn’t even very impressed anyway! Tsk! Women eh? Next time just try sending a bunch of flowers. Or stalking someone who isn’t a
Likely?:A Mitt Romney landslide? If you believe in a God, pray to him or her that this doesn’t happen.