The other day I read an article that opened with a line that shocked me: "As Obama seeks to become only the second Democratic president since FDR to be re-elected..."
I had to do some quick thinking. Could that be right? Has only one Democratic president been re-elected in the last 65+ years? Is Obama trying to pull off a truly rare feat?
Well, it is true - from a certain point of view. In the last 60+ years, only Bill Clinton has won two elections on the Democratic ticket.
But that IS a fairly selective way of looking at the facts. Two other sitting Democratic presidents won the election as an incumbent - Truman and Johnson were vice presidents who took the office on the death of their successor, so they weren't technically RE-elected. But voters HAD voted for a ticket that they were on in both cases. Johnston didn't try for re-election in '68.
With another way of looking at things, you could actually say that Obama is trying to be something that ought to be easy: seeking to avoid becoming only the second Democratic incumbent to lose a general election since Grover Cleveland. Of all Democratic presidents in the last 120-odd years, the only one who has run for another term and lost was Jimmy Carter. Wilson was re-election, so was Roosevelt (three times). Truman won a full term after taking over upon Roosevelt's death, Kennedy didn't live to run for a second term (if Goldwater had been the GOP nominee, he probably would have won, though, although perhaps not by as big a margin as Johnson did), and Clinton won twice.
Another fun statistical thing: assuming Mitt Romney doesn't ask Jeb Bush to be vice president, he'll be seeking to be the first Republican since Herbert Hoover to win a presidential election without the name Bush or Nixon on the ticket.