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Coffee House US Election

Don’t expect Trump or Clinton to stick around for a second term

6 November 2016

2:00 PM

6 November 2016

2:00 PM

Whichever unappealing candidate wins the US Presidential election next week, one thing seems to be pretty certain: they are almost certainly going to be one-term presidents.

If he’s elected, ‘the Donald’ will be a 74-year-old incumbent come 2020, so even if he turns out to be a much more effective president than most would predict at this juncture, he’ll be getting on a bit to run again. If nothing else, there’ll be significantly less bounce to his bonce.

Meanwhile, President Hillary, if that’s what she becomes, will be 73 in 2020. Even if she somehow manages to get the American people to fall in love with her, she will have endured four hard years in office, which means even less sleep and gallons more stress; not to mention thousands more emails to worry about. It doesn’t seem likely she will run for another term, does it?

The recent past of American politics – just like our own – proves that nothing is impossible, of course. But to put it in perspective, Ronald Reagan was 73 when he began his second term – and he was looking a bit doddery at the end (and some would have said at the start, too).  However, he was also massively popular, something neither Trump nor Clinton can claim.


So, as it stands, neither age nor the appeal of either candidate is on their side when contemplating 2020. That means the full, double-term whack is unlikely to come their way, which may put them in the relatively unloved rank of single-term presidents, of which we’ve had just four in the last hundred years; Bush Senior, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and Herbert Hoover.

This suggests that we are likely going to have to go through another protracted and tedious and for the US, highly fractious, election cycle in 2019-2020, possibly with two new candidates battling it out, or with one ageing, possibly unloved and even more tarnished incumbent clinging on. 

In effect, this means that we’re probably about to head into a brand new election cycle for 2020 almost immediately (with new faces jostling for position) and certainly will be after the midterm elections in November 2018, when whoever wins next week will, in all probability, become a lame duck, if they aren’t already.

All this bitterness, aggravation and rancour for just two or three years of effective presidency – if that. Depressing isn’t it? It might make great television for us but small wonder millions of Americans are disenfranchised by the whole thing.

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7im-nov-2016-970x250-v2After the American people have voted, what next for the US and the rest of the world? Join panellists including Sir Christopher Meyer, KCMG, former British ambassador to the US, for a discussion chaired by Andrew Neil on 30 November at RIBA, London. Tickets include a drinks reception. In association with Seven Investment Management. Book now.


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