Despite Ann Romney’s protestations that her family is “done, done, done” with presidential politics, those around the two-time presidential candidate are apparently jonesing for a third campaign. “There is a feeling that the country missed out on an exceptional president,” former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty recently told the Washington Post. “If he runs, I believe he could win the nomination and the general election. It’d be the right person at the right time, and I would encourage him to do it.”
So what are the chances Romney could move into the White House? It helps to profile Romney’s trajectory against presidents with similar political paths. Romney would be the tenth candidate to enter the race after losing his first general election, not counting quadrennial candidates who never received a single electoral vote. The graphs below show how the previous nine fared.
A 2016 campaign would be Romney’s third time at bat, after losing the Republican nomination for president in 2008, then winning his party’s nomination in 2012 but losing to President Barack Obama in the general election.
Of the nine candidates who have tread this path before, four went on to win a subsequent general election. That includes Grover Cleveland, the only person to have won, lost and then won a general election again.
The remaining five candidates who ran again after losing a general election never saw the White House.
Many more candidates lost their first attempt at the nomination and then eventually went on to win the general election in a subsequent cycle. President Ronald Reagan didn’t win the nomination until his third attempt, and then won the presidency twice.
Data compiled from the CQ Voting and Elections Collection.