March 29, 2024

Will Donald Trump Be The New Grover Cleveland?

President Grover Cleveland
Only one time in U.S. history has a President served a term, lost re-election, and then been elected President again. (Stephen) Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States—having been elected in 1884, lost in 1888 (though he won the popular vote), and won in 1892. An independent-minded Democrat, Cleveland rose to power in New York State battling the Democratic Party's corrupt Tammany Hall political machine. His non-consecutive presidential terms were highlighted by serious economic problems and labor strife. 

Now, the 2024 election could result in history repeating itself. If Donald Trump is elected again in November, he will be just the second person to achieve the rare feat of "interregnum" presidencies. Of course, it's not easy to defeat an incumbent President—even if you yourself are an ex-President. Joe Biden will be able to marshal the formidable resources of incumbency to try to hold on to power. All recent polls indicate the 2024 election will be an extremely close race—potentially complicated by multiple "third-party" players. 

It turns out that Grover Cleveland didn't really face much of a battle in his 1892 "re-ascension" to the White House. He beat the incumbent—Benjamin Harrison—by a comfortable popular vote margin. He also gathered 277 Electoral College votes to Harrison's 145. Interestingly, there was a fairly strong third-party candidate that year (James Weaver of the People's Party), but that effort mustered only 22 electoral votes. Still, Weaver did get about 9% of the popular vote—ironically just about the same percentage Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is getting in many polls today.

So, in addition to being a rough-and-tumble battle between two Presidents, the 2024 election might just make history.