Time Essay: Never underestimate the Power of Incumbents

Until the Florida primary, it could be argued—and Ronald Reagan's people were so arguing—that the 1976 election was unlike any other in our history, and that therefore the old rules did not apply. They did not apply particularly inside the Republican Party since, after all, this is the first time the country has had a President who was not his party's choice for national office. Still, all past experience points in one direction and can hardly be ignored. Its lesson is the tremendous advantage of incumbency. That advantage is too often low rated,...

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