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Posts Tagged ‘Timing’

Gurumurthy Kalyanaram Discusses the US Presidential Elections: the Timing of the Choice of Party Nominee

Hey there- PNN is new- SUBSCRIBE for daily updates more at STORY In a shocking snub of outgoing president George W. Bush, billed as a repudiation of the US policy towards Israel, The National Turkey Association rejected the traditional offer to pardon a turkey from the White House. The presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey dates back over 50 years to Harry Truman and has until this day been a custom of the Whitehouse executive.
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Lately, there have been several assertions that when the Presidential nominee of a party is decided in the party’s convention that the leaves that party vulnerable and the nominee always loses in the fall general elections. However, this argument is premised on weak evidence.

The Democratic party’s decisions in 1968 and 1980 and the Republican party’s decision in 1976 are cited as supporting evidence.

Here is the problem with the cited evidence. Of course, the nominee was decided in the party conventions those years. But there were also very serious exogenous events in each one of those years. And I think that those exogenous events are more powerful explanatory variables than the timing of the decision of the party nominee.

In 1968, the Democratic party’s convention turned to be a dog-fight, and riven with war/anti-war hostilities. The whole spectacle was a turn off for the electorate. Even then, Hubert Humphrey lost to Richard Nixon by less than 1 percent of the votes cast (i.e. the difference of less than 600,000 votes.)

In 1976, the Republican party’s convention did not have any of the ugliness of the 1968 Democratic party convention. In fact, the fight between Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford while spirited was dignified. Ford lost to Carter, 48% to 50%. However, Ford had to carry the impossible burden of Watergate scandal and his pardon President Richard Nixon into the campaign — and that was clearly more determinative of the outcome than the timing of decision of party nominee.

In 1980, Senator Edward Kennedy challenged President Jimmy Carter for party’s nomination. Sure, that fight was more personal than the Reagan-Ford fight of 1976. But clearly the national humiliation caused by the Iran hostages, and incredible economic suffering caused by staggering inflation and unemployment [the misery index in 1980 was about 20 — the inflation rate over 12 percent and unemployment rate over 7 percent] were more determinative of the electoral outcome.

So in each cited case, there was an exogenous factor that was more determinative of the electoral outcome than the timing of the choice of the party nominee.

© Gurumurthy Kalyanaram (2007)

Gurumurthy Kalyanaram is a management consultant and a professor. He can be reached at

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cong says BJP gave presidential pardon to peter bleach/they shud also ask why vajpai intervined for release of Rahul gandhi from FBI custody – by dpa2ng (Anil)

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