In profile: Former presidents who failed in re-election bids

For the first time in 28 years, an incumbent US president has failed to secure a second term in the White House.

Donald Trump is to become a member of the small group of presidents who lost a re-election campaign after it was confirmed Democratic candidate Joe Biden would be the new president-elect.

Here, the PA news agency profiles some of the most recent former one-term presidents.

– George HW Bush

The most recent single-term president was George HW Bush, who lost his 1992 re-election bid to Democrat Bill Clinton.

Bush Snr, a Republican and Second World War veteran, was elected as the 41st President of the United States in 1988.

US Politics – George HW Bush – US Embassy, London
US Politics – George HW Bush – US Embassy, London

Prior to the presidency, he held a number of high-level positions throughout his political career, including congressman, CIA director and Ronald Reagan’s vice-president for the Republican Party.

His legacy was shaped by being president at the end of the Cold War and for taking the United States into the first Gulf conflict.

The first member of the Bush political family to reach the nation’s top office, his son George W Bush would go on to be elected president in 2000 after Mr Clinton and served two terms.

– Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981 but lost his 1980 re-election campaign to Republican Ronald Reagan.

The Democrat became president after defeating Gerald Ford, who took office following the resignation of Richard Nixon over the Watergate scandal.


Mr Carter’s major political achievements were in foreign policy, including the Camp David agreement of 1978, when he ushered a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

But the end of his administration was marked by the Iran hostage crisis – when 52 Americans were held captive at the US embassy in Tehran – which ultimately contributed to his defeat in 1980.

– Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover served as the 31st President of the United States from 1929 to 1933.

The Republican promised to bring peace and prosperity to the nation during the election, but within months of taking office the US stock market crashed and the country was plunged into the Great Depression.

Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover

The country did not recover in his first term and, as a result, Mr Hoover was defeated in the 1932 election by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served until his death in 1945.

– William Howard Taft

William Howard Taft was elected the 27th President of the United States in 1909, later losing his re-election campaign to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

His administration “alienated” many liberal Republicans who later formed the Progressive Party, with this divide ultimately ending his presidency, according to Mr Taft’s White House biography.

Following his presidency, Mr Taft achieved a lifelong ambition when he was appointed chief justice of the US Supreme Court – becoming the only person to have served in both of these offices.