Politics and civics

When do losing presidential candidates usually concede?

How far out of the norm is Trump’s behavior? A look at concession moments in comparison with when the race for president was called by news media.

News organizations called the election for Joe Biden on Saturday, 07 November. It’s late on the 10th, and Donald Trump not only refuses to concede, he insists that he has won.

Trump’s four years in office have been marked by his disregard for American political norms. But how far off is he this time, with his failure to concede?

Note: No presidential candidate in modern history has refused to concede

NPR reports that the first concession came in a telegram, from William Jennings Bryan to William McKinley, two days after the election of 1896.

Since then, we’ve heard 32 concession speeches, marked by a template:

  • Statement of defeat
  • Call for unity
  • Tribute to democracy
  • Vow not to give up

News organization call compared to concession

All times Eastern.

2020, 03 November; called 11:24 a.m. 07 November
President-elect: Joe Biden
None; Trump insists he’s won

2016, 08 November; called 2:29 a.m. on 09 November
Elected President: Donald Trump
Clinton conceded on 09 November

2012, 06 November, 11:17 p.m.
Elected President: Barack Obama
Romney conceded on 07 November

2008, 04 November, 11 p.m.
Elected President: Barack Obama
McCain conceded on 04 November

2004, 02 November; called 11:19 a.m. 03 November
Elected President: George W. Bush
Kerry conceded on 03 November

2000, 07 November; called 12 December
Elected President: George W. Bush
Gore conceded on 13 December

1996, 05 November; 9 p.m.
Elected President: Bill Clinton
Dole conceded on 05 November

1992, 03 November; 10:48 p.m.
Elected President: Bill Clinton
Bush conceded on 03 November

1988, 08 November; 9:17 p.m.
Elected President: George H. W. Bush
Dukakis conceded on 08 November

1984, 06 November; 8:02 p.m.
Elected President: Ronald Reagan
Mondale conceded on 06 November 

1980, 04 November; 8:15 p.m.
Elected President: Ronald Reagan
Carter conceded 04 November

1976, 02 November; called 3:31 a.m. on 03 November
Elected President: Jimmy Carter
Ford conceded 03 November 

One last thing.

The Electoral College, a vestige of the nation’s roots in slavery, discriminates against populous states given Congressional refusal to grow the House of Representatives to accommodate a growing population.

Democrats have won the popular vote for the fourth presidential election in a row and in seven of the last eight elections. Yet two of those candidates – Gore and Clinton – are in this list as giving a concession speech.

This must change or there will be a civil war.

Sources: Green Papers, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune (McCain)

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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