Here's Every US President Who Didn't Make It To A Second Term


If you're one of the people who was left horrified by the President Trump's eventful first week in office, you're probably ready to count down throughout the next four years.

On the other hand, if you're one of the people who are happy President Trump is delivering on the core promises he campaigned on, you're probably hoping those four years turn into eight.

Either way, there's interest around one all-important question: Can Trump can go the distance or will he just last just one term.

Well, recent history has been trending toward two-term presidents. Four of the last five commanders-in-chief have won re-election. During that time frame, the one time a POTUS failed to win a second term happened to occur under very unique circumstances (more on that later).

Still, in six of the past seven elections, Democrats have won the popular vote, which means there's always hope they can get their nominee in the White House.

So, if you're still wondering about that question, take a look at the 10 one-term presidents in US history, and compare as we go along with this current presidency.

George HW Bush


That "once-in-a-lifetime" election I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that was in 1992, when a super gagillionaire named Ross Perot ran as an independent.

Perot used his big checkbook to buy blocks of broadcasting time on TV, during which he'd explain his economic plans .(They're like watching paint dry, but you can check 'em out here if you want.)


Anyway, the high profile of Perot helped him get 18 percent of the popular vote (the highest ever achieved by an independent candidate), which split the conservative vote, and helped Bill Clinton beat George HW Bush, despite only winning 43 percent of the electorate.

Before becoming president, HW had been Ronald Reagan's VP, and won the '88 election in a super-landslide victory against Michael Dukakis.

Jimmy Carter


When Jimmy Carter ran for president, the timing was just right for someone to come to the White House with a good-boy image.

Richard Nixon and his vice president had both resigned after separate controversies, which means Carter ran against a president who wasn't even elected by the people of America (Gerald Ford).

But good character could only take Carter but so far, and after his presidency faced economic difficulties and the Iran hostage crisis, the country replaced him with the most popular Republican president of the modern era, Ronald Reagan.

Gerald Ford

How exactly, did Gerald Ford become the only president to have not been elected, you ask? First, Richard Nixon's VP, Spiro Agnew resigned in October '73 while under criminal investigation for tax evasion.

Ford was then appointed by Congress to fill the vacant vice president role. Then, nine months after, he became VP, Ford became the president after Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal.

Ford eventually pardoned Nixon, which means by the time Ford ran for a second term, he was a president the people didn't choose, who didn't give the people what they wanted (Nixon's head).

That's clearly not how you win election.

Hebert Hoover

This is literally the simplest "why didn't he get re-elected" question to answer. Ready? OK.

Why didn't Hebert Hoover get re-elected?


The Great Depression.

William Taft

How William Taft ended up losing an opportunity for a second term is one of the more notable stories in presidential election history.

Long story short: Theodore Roosevelt had already served two terms, from 1901 to 1909. Roosevelt was then succeeded by Taft, a fellow Republican, but the party didn't like the direction Taft took the GOP.

Fast forward to the election of 1912 and Roosevelt was running as a third party candidate, and undermined Taft's bid for re-election, creating a clear path for Woodrow Wilson to win the presidency.

Benjamin Harrison

Just about the only thing that's notable about Benjamin Harrison's presidency, and the fact that he wasn't bale to get a second term, is the fact that he lost the White House to the man he won it from (you read that correctly).

More on that below.

Grover Cleveland

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Grover Cleveland belongs on this list and doesn't belong, at the same time.

Cleveland failed win re-election in 1888, but returned in 1892 to win the presidency again, which means he's both the 22nd and 24th president(s?) of the United States.

Weird, right? Well hold on, let me finish.

Cleveland entered the White House unmarried and ended up getting wedded to a college graduate who was literally half his age, in the White House.

OK, now you can say it: weird.

Martin Van Buren

There are two interesting things to note about Martin Van Buren.

One, he was a the first president to have been born after the United States of America was formed. And, two, he's the spokesman for this motto: If at first you succeed, but then fail, try again, and then again once more.

Van Buren won the election of 1836, suffered an economic crisis in 1973, and then (as most presidents who suffer economic crises tend to do) lost in 1840 to William Harrison.

He didn't stop there, though. Van Buren tried to go for the Democratic nomination in 1844, unsuccessfully. And then, he ran in 1948 as a third party candidate.

Safe to say, it was different time back then.

John Quincy Adams

If there's anybody you should feel sorry for on this list, it's John Quincy Adams, a man whom Harvard professor James Kloppenberg described as "a dignified and restrained champion of the rights of women, African Americans and other ethnic minorities" who favored big government.

There's just one problem with being that type of person: It was 1828.

Instead of winning a second term, JQA was defeated by Andrew Jackson, a wild card candidate who proclaimed himself anti-elite. If it sounds familiar, then you'll understand why people are comparing Jackson to Trump.

But, Jackson was also a super racist (like, even for the 1800s' standards). So, not quite sure why Trump would embrace that comparison.

John Adams

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Like father, like son.

John Adams, the second president in our nation's history and our first vice president, lost the election of 1800 in a complicated contest that makes this past November's race looks like the JV squad of electoral college controversies.

To get more specific, without southern states counting each of its slaves as three-fifths of a person toward the population, Jefferson would not have had enough electoral votes to win the election.

And, of course, I'd be remiss to not point out the obvious irony: Jefferson was the guy who wrote "all men are created equal" in our Declaration of Independence.

(We kind of have a complicated history.)