Friday, September 15, 2006

The Six-Year Curse

What's the deal with Presidents getting into trouble or scandal or otherwise hitting a low point around the 6th year of their Presidency?

Richard Nixon -- had to resign in 1974.

Ronald Reagan -- Iran-Contra affair in 1986.

Bill Clinton -- Lewinsky scandal in 1998.

George Bush -- the Iraq situation evolves into an embarrassment by 2006.

I'm sure there is no unifying explanation here, but it's still interesting. I wonder, did Dwight Eisenhower face any scandal in 1958? Roosevelt in 1938?


Blogger Hunter McDaniel said...

Well yes, Eisenhower did have to deal with a major scandal in his sixth year, 1958. Check this out:

Peanuts compared to the corruption that goes on nowadays, but it was a big issue at the time.

9:06 PM  
Blogger R. Alex said...

"In February 1958 [...] President Eisenhower had a Gallup job approval rating of 54 percent. In November it was 52 percent, and Republicans lost 13 Senate and 48 House seats."

Eisenhower, if I recall, supported an idea floating around to have one six-year term for presidents rather than two four-year terms.

9:19 AM  
Blogger R. Alex said...

Sorry, forgot to provide link.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Roger Sweeny said...

I don't know about scandal but Roosevelt had the Supreme Court "packing" plan in 1938, which turned out to be unpopular and went down to defeat (though the new Court pensions quickly got rid of the older Justices and soon resulted in the decisions he wanted).

He also had a recession which took away many of the gains the American economy had made since its low point in 1933, which made his various New Deals look like less than rousing successes.

And the Democrats lost seats in that year's election.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

I have heard of 'sixth-year itch', which is the tendency of voters in the sixth-year of an administration to favor the opposing party in congressional elections (especially for the Senate). If there's any pattern here, it's possible that they're related -- perhaps it's not so much that Presidents get into scandals in their sixth year, but that voters are more likely to latch on to scandals in the sixth-year elections (due to fatigue with the visibility of the President's party, perhaps?).

9:31 PM  

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