The 10-POTUS Checklist–Your Tool For The 2024 Presidential Election


Last time I did a list like this I entitled it the “9 POTUS Checklist.” That’s because nine American presidents, as of 2016-2019, had won a first term, won re-nomination as president, and lost the general presidential election for a consecutive second term.

The 2020 election added one to the list but changed my findings not at all.

Say hello to the “10 POTUS Checklist.”

The list below is a tool for you to use. Imagine it as an old-fashioned yardstick. Use it to measure. You make the call as to the actual length. Its not predictive. It’s reflective of what you’re lining up, in this case, the 2024 election and POTUS 46. Pretty simple.

Take the three criteria and you get 10 POTUSes since 1789. In case you’re curious, here they are, starting with most recent and tracking backwards—Donald Trump (2020), George HW Bush (1992), Jimmy Carter (1980), Herbert Hoover (1932), William Taft (1912), Benjamin Harrison (1892), Grover Cleveland (1888), Martin Van Buren (1840), John Quincy Adams (1828), and John Adams (1800).

10 POTUSes. You make the call as you measure between now and Election Day 2024. Remember, you measure it out–at any given time does POTUS 46 hit one item on the list, more than one item on the list, or all items on the list? Special note: I’ll have more to say at a later date about 2024 and the two pairings of Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. 


The killing point is a lack of unity in the president’s political party. The entire group of 10 POTUSes suffered from deep divisions and separations within their party. The form of disunity varied—it might be a formal rival, it might be public expression of dissent by an influential figure, it might be a split Cabinet, it might be a competitive environment in the primaries or at the nominating convention, and so on. Internal disunity defeated each of the 10. That’s why I decided to call it the killing point. None survived as returning candidacies.


All 10 POTUSes were haunted by what I saw as a Ghost Effect. The Ghost Effect is an issue, trend, competitor, personal flaw or failing, or dynamic that is left over from the previous presidential election. Whatever shape emerges, it didn’t disappear during the four-year presidential term. It persisted, endured, lingered, evolved, or perhaps most accurately of all, haunted and hounded the POTUS to the point of defeat in the re-election moment. Four years before, in winning the first term, POTUS overcame the Ghost. Four years later, the Ghost gets revenge on all 10.


A crisis exists that defies every attempt by the POTUS to resolve it. The crisis takes on one of two appearances: it is long and pervasive, flattening like a steamroller; or it is short and acute, slicing like a knife. Examples include severe economic decline, a foreign calamity, a late-stage event, or a deeply personal loss.


A loss of energy and momentum comes to characterize the campaign to seek re-election. This deceleration is not attributable to the POTUS individually or exclusively. The stagnation tends to act as a nagging sensation in the campaign generally, especially over time. It can abide in POTUS as a person, but not always. Regardless, as the election draws near, the quantity of energy seems to be steadily declining, the void in energy growing. Quite likely, the gradual pervasiveness of no- or low-energy is a result of both the crisis and Ghost Effect mentioned above.


The POTUS has a particular quality of leadership that produces a consistently damaging result. Whether a habit, trait, or characteristic, the destructive quality is not new in POTUS’s life or leadership. The negative result appears in private away from public view. Occasionally, however, public displays are visible. This damaging leadership quality will interact with other items on the checklist. By itself, it will not defeat the POTUS but in combination with other factors, it will hinders the pursuit of a re-election victory.


An Attractor Factor rises up. The Attractor Factor is a feature in the POTUS’s opposing candidate. There is something in the opposing candidate—a personal quality, a promised action, or an assumed advantage—that the POTUS cannot overcome through the memory and record of the first presidential term. The Attractor Factor doesn’t need to be massive or overwhelming. It simply needs to be enough. The Attractor Factor doesn’t need to exist for an extended time. It simply needs to be timely.

I want to be as sure as I can that you understand the “10 POTUS Checklist.” I’m not advocating or persuading as to President Trump=Great or President Trump=Awful or either President Biden=Great or President Biden=Awful. Maybe we have our 11th POTUS in 2024 or maybe we don’t. You can go elsewhere for such opinion-sharing, pontificating, or worse, mindless slashing and burning. I’m just furnishing a history-based tool to track POTUS 46 against my findings from the shared experience of the previous ten American presidents who won a first-term and re-nomination but lost re-election. And don’t forget the yardstick is free (in the form of this blog post!).

If you’d like to discuss arranging a private session, reach out to me at 317-407-3687.

Thanks for reading and all the best, Dan