The Staff at the History News Network has the following list of historical precedents that were supposed to help predict the election one way or the other.
Bush would win ...
Because ... Incumbents usually have an advantage. In the last century ten incumbents won a second term while just five lost.
Because ... Americans have never turned out of office a president in the middle of a war. (This explanation conveniently overlooks the fact that two presidents declined to run for re-election in the middle of wars that were going badly: Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson; both faced the prospect of certain defeat.)
Because ... In a crisis Americans rally around their president and Americans remain so fearful of terrorism that they were willing to continue rallying around President Bush.
Because ... Only two sitting senators have ever been elected president (Warren Harding and John Kennedy).
Kerry would win ...
Because ... The tallest candidate usually wins. Only a few presidents have been shorter than the average height of their fellow citizens--and since William McKinley not one has.
Because ... Minority presidents (those elected with less than 50 percent of the vote in their first election) rarely win re-election. Until 2004, only three minority presidents won re-election: Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton.
Because ... No president has won re-election when their approval ratings were under 50 percent going into the fall campaign.
Because ... Elections are referendums on the incumbent and Bush had faced a string of reversals in the prior six months.
Because ... No president has served two full terms following another two-term president since the administration of James Monroe.
Because ... Incumbents usually either win or lose by large margins and no one expected President Bush to win by a large margin.
Because ... As John Zogby stated, undecideds tend to vote for the challenger and enough voters remain undecided going into the election that Bush's re-election was in doubt.
Because ... President Bush was perceived to have lost the presidential debates and no president who had generally been perceived as the debate loser ever won the general election.
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