TTP: A 9 POTUS Checklist for the 2020 Presidential Election, Part II

So, from Part I of my series, you now know that 9 POTUSes won and completed a first presidential term, won their party’s nomination for re-election, but lost in the election for a second term in the White House. Also, you have the six-item checklist to use in gauging whether or not we’ll add the 10th POTUS to the group in November 2020. To refresh your recall of Part I, CLICK HERE. For you newcomers, it’s brief and fast to catch up on Part I.

And we pivot today to Part II. Again, brief and fast. I promise. I think you’ll find this interesting.

I’d like you and I to go on a slightly deeper dive into my research on the 9 POTUSes (George HW Bush, 1992 re-election loss; 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).

We’re looking in Part II at the public mood and the role of the media in the story of the 9 POTUSes. Remember, I’m giving you a platform for comparative analysis in, over, and across time. I have no call to tilt you in a political-partisan or ideological direction. You don’t need me to blather on about who ought to win.

To begin, the public mood and media have mountain-sized effects on the 9 POTUSes. As you perhaps expect, the public mood is dark for all 9 POTUSes. Long shadows cover the public landscape; the general feeling is nervousness, despair, and a pervasive doubt surrounding each of the 9. People in substantial numbers believe the incumbent incapable of tackling a defined issue or event that has disturbed much of the nation. This darkness ignores all sorts of lines and is not isolated to a limited region or group of people. The mood is almost alive and breathing, moving up to down and down to up in society and position, and outside-in and inside-out in power and status. You smell a storm is in the air.

The duration of the mood isn’t as vital as its depth and intensity. You can peer into the situation each of the 9 faces in the run-up to re-election and discover that the certainty and settledness of people’s opinions is far more telling than the length of time with which they’ve held them. And then there is timing, a critical component. When the feeling of public darkness and despair was intense, widespread, AND within touchable distance of the re-election moment…POTUS was finished and defeated, a plus-1 for the total of 9.

Sure, it’s commonsense. POTUS loses because the mood is bad. To me, though, the intriguing aspect of public mood was revealed when I examined the concurrent state of media for the 9 POTUSes. The longer I reflected on this point, the more I leaned forward in my chair.

Each of the 9 POTUSes copes with an innovation in media that is rapidly, wildly gaining in popularity, usage, and influence. It is comparable to an earthquake shaking the needle on the Richter Scale—a shock rises up, heaves and rumbles in all directions, and then further aftershocks roll and ripple out. The record of the 9 POTUSes shows this pattern with printed newsheets and newspapers; nationally and regionally-published magazines and periodicals; and in-home, in-person mass communication that is heard (audio), heard and watched together (televised and broadcast), and regardless, in either form, is accessible where you live, where you stand or sit, wherever you are. The innovation in media may be in format or technique, usage or technology. The thread tying all of it in a bundle is the breakout of innovation. The breakout sweeps over the campaigns of the 9 POTUSes.

For each of the 9 the most overwhelming point is that they must cope with a new media innovation that has not been fully understood, adopted, and most importantly, channeled and controlled through accepted habits, practices, and customs. The media innovation by itself contributes to a dispirited public mood, swiftly locking on the issue, event, or personal failing that is most threatening to the POTUS. The innovation fuels negativism, the public mood slides further, and the POTUS struggles to re-gain momentum. The innovation and the mood become symbiotic, co-existing and co-mingling with such speed that they defy separation and disconnection.

The media innovation brings new personalities onto the civic stage. The personalities, often unusually gifted and effective wielders of the innovation, have their own interests at stake. As individual figures and as the souls of organizations, they are on the rise, surging in public visibility. They also may or may not conform to—and they may or may not have any regard for—existing controls and guardrails built in an era before the innovation. Increasingly a force all their own, these individuals add to the complexities of POTUS’s work in trying to improve or reverse the public mood.

Nearly all of the 9 attempted to rally and put the media innovation to work for their re-election. The efforts failed. They either looked silly and inept in using the innovation or suffered from a backfire when their exertion unexpectedly hardened the disadvantages stacked against them. For many in the public, it’s just one more sign that the POTUS is out of step. Sometimes the 9 POTUSes were actually implementing appropriate plans and policies—no matter, no difference, barely anyone noticed. The media innovation didn’t amplify their efforts, and the public mood remained grim and unchanged.

The POTUS fated to be the 10th on the list will be the target-end of a media innovation fresh and crackling and explosive, and will suffer from public disfavor that is active, robust, and gaining in size and strength.

Next time, Part III—the compelling story of one of the POTUSes among the 9—the President after the first Donald Trump, Andrew Jackson. We’ll see the insights evident in Martin Van Buren (Jackson’s successor), his re-election loss in 1840, and the ramifications for you as November 2020 moves closer.

Feel free to reach out via 317-407-3687.

Thanks for reading and all the best, Dan