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Second-term curse

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Title: Second-term curse  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Watergate scandal, President of the United States
Collection: Curses, Presidential Elections in the United States, United States Presidential History
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Second-term curse

The second-term curse is the perceived tendency of second terms of recent

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Clymer, Adam (November 7, 2012). "'"Triumphant Obama Faces New Foe in 'Second-Term Curse. New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Broder, David (January 20, 2005). "'"Fending Off the 'Second-Term Curse. Washington Post. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Fournier, Ron (November 6, 2012). "5 Reasons Why Obama and Romney Will Get No Mandate". National Journal. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Bush sets out to salvage 2nd term". USA Today. October 31, 2005. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Duberstein, Kenneth M. (October 29, 2005). "Breaking the second-term curse". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  6. ^  
  7. ^ Barone, Michael (January 20, 2013). "Unlucky (Lame) Ducks?".  
  8. ^ "Like Predecessors, Bush Has Second-Term Blues". Wall Street Journal. October 29, 2005. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 


  1. ^ a b Was technically serving his first full term after finishing out the term of his predecessor, who died in office.
  2. ^ Became the first president to resign the office


President Second term Attributable event(s)
Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin D. Roosevelt 1937–1941 Failure of the "court-packing plan"[1]
Harry S. Truman Harry S. Truman 1949–1953[note 1] Korean War[2]
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dwight D. Eisenhower 1957–1961 Overcoat scandal[1]
1960 U-2 incident[1][5]
Lyndon B. Johnson Lyndon B. Johnson 1965–1969[note 1] Vietnam War[2]
Reaction to the Great Society[2]
Urban riots and the Kerner Commission[2]
Richard Nixon Richard Nixon 1973–1974[note 2] Watergate scandal[2][4]
Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan 1985–1989 Iran–Contra affair[1][4]
Bill Clinton Bill Clinton 1997–2001 Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment[1][4]
George W. Bush 2005–2009 Failure of Social Security reform[3]
Criticism of government response to Hurricane Katrina[8]
Financial crisis of 2008[1]

Presidents of the curse

Whether this perceived tendency is real is a subject of dispute: for example, political statistician Nate Silver, after analyzing presidential approval ratings for Harry S. Truman through Barack Obama, did find that approval ratings were lower on average during second terms, but he also found a variety of other reasons to explain those ratings, and he concluded that that "the idea of the second-term curse is sloppy as an analytical concept."[6] In addition, political writer Michael Barone cited several presidents who had successful second-terms, and wrote that "second-term problems resulted more often from the failure to adjust to changed circumstances and unanticipated challenges".[7]


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