The Next Grover Cleveland?

08/03/2010 02:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Could you see Barack Obama being elected President for two different, separate administrations?

There is a lot of buzz now that the negative poll numbers the President is receiving could mean he loses his bid for reelection in 2012. Could you see him losing in 2012, but winning in 2016?

Grover Cleveland has the distinction of being the only President elected twice. He was elected president in 1884, defeated in 1888 and then won the presidency in 1892.

Obama is enduring his worse political season with a series of challenging polls numbers. His unfavorable rating is at an all time high. In head to head poll comparisons, he now would be behind major GOP contenders (Romney, Huckabee and Gingrich). In key swing state polls, Obama also is behind hypothetical GOP nominees in Midwestern states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. His press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has been accused of planting the seeds for Democratic congregational losses next November out of fear that in the climate, if the Democratics continue to control all of Washington, Obama would not win reelection.

Grover Cleveland did not win his reelection bid either. Cleveland was a Democract, a lawyer and his place in history includes being overwhelmed by economic downturns of his day.

Now there are many differences between Cleveland and Obama on many levels. However, electorally, they could end up being similar.

Both men had meteoritic rises in politics and relatively little governmental experience when they took the oath of office (both at age 47). Cleveland was elected in 1884 but lost the 1888 Presidential election, despite winning the popular vote, to Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, when he lost the critical swing states of his day.

This scenario is a long-shot perhaps, for Obama's incumbency, fundraising prowess and incredible political gifts make him the favorite to win reelection in 2012. However, if the Republicans were to nominate Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, 1888 could repeat itself with a GOP Hoosier again being elected President. Daniels is a fiscal hawk, successful governor, relatively moderate and politically positioned to do well in the swing states of the Midwest in 2012. Were Daniels to run and win the GOP nod, one could see Obama winning the popular vote and Daniels winning the midwest and the presidency in the electoral college in a repeat of 1888 (not to mention 2000).

Cleveland ran again in 1892 and that time defeated Harrison. Obama is now only 48 years old. If he were to lose in 2012, he would still be plenty young enough to run again in 2016. His experience of being president, combined with his political gifts, would mean that if the anti-Democratic polling trends of the last few weeks continue and Obama were to lose in
2012, he, like Grover Cleveland, might come right back again and win once the climate improved.