On Sunday, CNN’s Jeff Zeleny said that people close to Hillary Clinton say she wouldn’t rule out a 2020 run. She did, after all, win 2.9 million more votes than Trump in 2016.
But if past is prologue, it would be unprecedented for a former nominee to come back and win the White House. It’s already quite rare for a party’s nominee to get a second crack at it. The last instance of a failed presidential nominee who ran for a second time and won was Richard Nixon in 1968.
Before that, the last party nominee to run again and win was William Henry Harrison, who lost to Martin Van Buren in 1836 but beat him four years later. (President Grover Cleveland lost his re-election in 1888 and, but won the office back in 1892.)
Others fared worse on the second go-round. Democrat Adlai Stevenson II lost twice to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. Thomas Dewey lost in 1944 to Franklin D. Roosevelt and four years later to Harry S. Truman.
• The field is not cleared for her this time as it was in 2016.
• The competition would be fierce, including a number of female candidates.
• Trump would love nothing more than to re-litigate her emails or his (unfounded) conspiracy theories about the FBI’s support for her.
• Even among those Democrats who don’t blame her campaign’s miscalculations for Trump’s win, there is a still a widespread sense that it’s time to move on.
• Unlike many politicians whose image improves once they’ve stopped seeking office, Clinton’s image has actually deteriorated since the 2016 election. Although 87 percent of Democrats had a favorable opinion of her the week of the election, that quickly dropped to 76 percent after she lost and remained around there as of September 2018, according to Gallup polling.
JM Rieger contributed to this report.