Social Question

talljasperman's avatar

Is it possible to run against a sitting President in your own party?

Asked by talljasperman (21910points) March 24th, 2012

From CNN Election Center: Incumbent President Barack Obama is running uncontested in most states states for the 2012 Democratic presidential nomination. He is expected to receive all delegates in most states.

Why did CNN use the word most instead of all? Which Democrat is running against him? Is this just a typo? It begs the question “Is it possible to run against a sitting president in your own party”? Who does CNN think is running against President Obama in the Democratic presidential nomination?
Can the Super Delegates then vote for anyone they like?

Serious answers and humor are welcome just don’t ask me to ask CNN myself.

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6 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Randall Terry is running against President Obama for the Democratic nomination.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Possible, yes, but most politicians of the incumbent’s party don’t (or won’t) for the following reasons:

a) the incumbent is likely to have far greater funds and the ability to raise funds, to say nothing of party support by the ‘establishment’

b) the challenger will, by necessity, be seen as not respecting the party – he’ll be seen as the upstart and that will be perceived as insulting to the party – whose support he will need if he happens to be nominated.

So while it is absolutely possible to run against the incumbent of your own party – look at the 1960s and 1970s, it is enormously difficult to win.

MrItty's avatar

1952: Harry Truman was challenged by Estes Kefauver. Kefauver defeated him in New Hampshire and Truman withdrew. Truman and the party bosses retained control of the nominating process, however, and handed the nomination of Adlai Stevenson, who subsequently lost to Eisenhower.

1968: LBJ was challenged by Eugene McCarthy and withdrew when polls showed he would lose in the Wisconsin primary. As in 1952, LBJ was able to engineer the nomination of Hubert Humphrey, who lost to Nixon.

1976: Gerald Ford was challenged by Ronald Reagan. Though Reagan made it close, Ford was able to hold the nomination. He was defeated by Jimmy Carter in the general.

1980: Carter was challenged by Ted Kennedy. Like Ford, he held off the challenge, but lost in the general to Reagan.

1992: George H.W. Bush was challenged by Pat Buchanan. He defeated Buchanan, but lost in the general to Bill Clinton.

filmfann's avatar

Both Reagan and Ted Kennedy made good runs at the sitting president.
It got so bad for Carter, that he asked a staffer to find out which democratic Senator supported the greatest amount of policies of the President, so that he could publicly criticize Kennedy, and support the President. Unfortunately, it turned out the Senator who supported him the most was Kennedy.

ro_in_motion's avatar

As @MrItty points out, it happens all the time. However the sitting President has the ultimate ‘bully pulpit’ to run for office. To run against a sitting president would be incredibly expensive unless the entire party had no confidence in him.

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