Victor Davis Hanson // Fox News
What factors usually reelect or throw out incumbent presidents?
The economy counts most.
Recessions, or at least chronic economic pessimism, sink incumbents. Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were tagged with sluggish growth, high unemployment and a sense of perceived stagnation — and were easily defeated.
The 2008 financial crisis likely ended any chance for John McCain to continue eight years of Republican rule. Barack Obama campaigned on the message that incumbent George W. Bush was to blame for the meltdown and that McCain, his potential Republican successor, would be even worse.
A once-unpopular incumbent Ronald Reagan fought recession for three years. Yet he soared to a landslide victory in 1984 only after the gross domestic product suddenly took off at an annualized clip of over 7 percent prior to the election.