Throughout the course of American history, there have been plenty of politicians that many felt were primed for at least one term in the White House. Not everything goes as planned, though, and all parties know that. The Democrats have had many of these candidates, with some losing out in the presidential election while some were ousted in the primaries. Out of all of the Democratic nominees, here are the five who surprised people the most by never achieving the presidency.
5. Howard Dean
Heading into the 2004 presidential election, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean wasn’t really considered by many to be a candidate with a strong possibility of winning. However, Dean quickly became popular and almost overnight turned into a favorite for the Democratic nomination. Unfortunately for Dean, he tried to emphatically rally his supporters, but his infamous “Yeah” scream derailed his campaign.
Dean would go on to become the Chair of the Democratic National Committee. It seems odd now that Dean was lambasted so much for his enthusiasm, but the internet was still in what was basically its infancy and the standard of presidential behavior was held to a much higher standard.
4. Michael Dukakis
By the time the 1988 election came along, no party had ever won three consecutive elections. This meant that Democrat Michael Dukakis was due to take the White House after Ronald Reagan’s term limit was reached. Dukakis, the then-Governor of Massachusetts, squared off with George H.W. Bush after defeating the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Gore in the primaries.
Similar to Howard Dean, it wasn’t his policies that cost Dukakis a lot of votes. It was a photograph of him in a tank that was used ad nauseam by Republicans that swayed a lot of public opinions.
3. John Kerry
Though George W. Bush had a very high approval rating after 9/11, those numbers quickly sunk due to the ensuing War on Terror. Because of this, the door was opened for John Kerry to take the White House and make Bush a one-term president. Instead, the Massachusetts senator lost the popular vote by more than 3 million on the way to winning 251 electoral votes. Still, at the time, Kerry’s 59 million votes were the second-most ever for a candidate.
2. Al Gore
Ultimately, the 1990s were a time of growth in the United States and the country ended up with a surplus economically. Bill Clinton was the president through much of that time, so it seemed like Al Gore may have been a safe bet to win the election to stay in the White House after serving as the VP for eight years.
Going up against George W. Bush in 2000, though, Gore lost the electoral college vote despite winning the popular vote. Of course, the election is remembered by the “hanging chads” and multiple recounts in Florida that ultimately decided the vote.
1. Hillary Clinton
Many felt that it was her “time” when Hillary Clinton received the Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential election. After losing out to Barack Obama in 2008, Clinton was next in line and was going against businessman Donald Trump, who had never held elected office before. Almost all political analysts expected it to be a landslide in Clinton’s favor, but it wasn’t to be.
Even after the early results showed Trump in the lead on election day, Clinton’s campaign was still confident that a victory was coming in the evening. Hour by hour, the expressions on Clinton supporters’ faces became warier. Late in the night, Clinton conceded to Trump despite winning the popular vote by nearly 3 million, while third-party and write-in candidates received a shockingly high amount of votes.