We are a nation obsessed with perfect records, and this is not always a bad thing. We hold our potential leaders up to higher moral standards, especially in the beginning. We tally up voting records to make sure our leaders are consistent, that they stand for something more than winning. A good leader should be successful, in life and especially in politics. But is a political loss a stigma? Unfortunately, it often is.
In other places, losing is part of training a successful candidate. In Britain, for example, it’s not necessary to actually live in the district in which you are running. As a result, more established members run in the “safe” districts, while party freshmen run in districts for which they have little more than a prayer, just for the experience of being a candidate.
In the U.S., the process works differently. A loss in a smaller race can be detrimental to a politician’s career, preventing a later run at a more significant office. The one big exception is the presidency. Losing a presidential bid and running again is not uncommon. Hillary lost before, as did George H.W. Bush. Even Thomas Jefferson earned an “L” before he got a “W.” In fact, about 25% of all U.S. presidents lose before they win.
There does seem to be a rule, however, whether it is spoken or not. That second run is only likely to be successful for a candidate who DOES NOT previously receive the nomination. Once the party endorses a candidate and puts its money and effort into that candidate, there is usually no coming back after a loss, with the exception of Richard Nixon and a unique turn of events. No other candidate has won the nomination, lost the election, and come back to win it all.
Though it might be difficult for American candidates to lose a lower office when they aspire to a higher one, the American people do reward persistence up to a point. The electorate is very willing to give second chances, even third chances, just as long as a candidate hasn’t lost as a nominee. Opportunity may keep knocking, but once you let it in, you only get one shot.
If you’re a candidate or have been before, don’t end your career because of a loss. A solid campaign and a recognizable name can be the determining factor in turning your second attempt into a clear win. When you’re ready to throw your hat back into the ring, Raise The Money will be there to help you process donations and keep your campaign moving full-steam ahead.