Brian Kelly

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies


In 1789 the fledgling nation of the United States of America unanimously elected its first president, a war hero named George Washington. In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, Washington served a four-year term, at the completion of which he ran again for president. He won, and after four more years, was succeeded by his vice-president, John Adams, who defeated Thomas Jefferson to become the second president of the United States of America. Four years later Jefferson would turn the tables on his victor and defeat Adams to become the nation's third president.

An investigation of the seventeen successful presidential incumbents, indicates that at least one of four re-occurring factors has been present in each successful reelection bid. This paper will analyze the four factors present in the re-election attempts of the incumbent presidents in order to determine the impact each of the factors had on the re-election of the incumbent president. The paper will then offer an analysis of which factors are likely to influence future presidential elections.

Of the eighteen successful incumbents four were re-elected as founding fathers and revolutionary patriots of the United States. Five presidents were re-elected while the United States was engaged in war. Five of the successful incumbents were publicly acknowledged war heroes from previous conflicts. The remainder of the successful incumbents were re-elected during times of relative economic prosperity.