Why Election Losers Often Struggle to Win Rematches

Former President Donald Trump is considering a rematch against President Joe Biden in 2024, which would only be the sixth presidential rematch in history and the first since the 1950s. However, historical data show that rematch attempts face major challenges.

Out of 25 Senate rematches since 1950, only two ended with different results the second time according to analysis from the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Similarly, of 44 gubernatorial rematch elections since 1950, only 14 (31%) resulted in a different outcome the second time around, according to an NBC News analysis.

In total, candidates have claimed victory in just 16 out of 69 attempts to win a rematch after losing the previous election. Notable candidates, including those in key races like the Georgia governor’s race and crucial Senate races, have faced similar challenges in their rematch attempts.

The track record of Senate, gubernatorial, and presidential elections indicates that the winner of the first election is highly likely to win a subsequent rematch, according to data analyzed by NBC News. For instance, Sen. Ron Johnson’s comeback success in Wisconsin aligns with this historical trend.

Several factors could affect a potential 2024 rematch between Trump and Biden, as indicated by government and politics professor David Karol. The dominance of a party in a state or district, demonstrated by recent gubernatorial rematches in Connecticut and Georgia, as well as the power of incumbency, should be taken into consideration when analyzing historical data.

However, the upcoming rematch is unique as it involves an incumbent and a former president, adding an extra layer of complexity. The analysis notes that the specific characteristics and situations of Biden and Trump could impact the potential outcome of a rematch in 2024.


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