Martin Van Buren and George Bush had overcome the vice presidential dilemma and were elected president of the United States. They both benefited from serving as vice presidents to popular two-term presidents. Is there any way to explain why they were elected other than through similarities between two men separated by over a century and a half? Political scientists offer three models to explain voting behavior that show a greater correlation between Van Buren and Bush than just historical coincidence. The three models are cyclical, prospective, and retrospective.
Richard Ellis and Aaron Wildavsky offer a study of presidential leadership, which shows the balancing act a president must maintain between cultural impulses in the United States to hold on to political power. Stephen Skowronek shows how presidents function and the methods that result in a new president taking the helm and functioning in a different manner. Erwin Hargrove and Michael Nelson similarly argue in their study how a preceding president sets the stage for the next. They argue that whether a leader concerns himself with preparation, achievement, or consolidation, the incumbent president apparently dictates the success of his successor. James David Barber provides a study that shows that voting behavior falls into twelve-year cycles. The elections of Van Buren and Bush happened to fall during the same cycle.
A different approach is taken by the final two works using a retrospective model, which directly explains why people vote the way they do. Allan Lichtman and Ken DeCell’s work establishes thirteen keys to being elected president. Their simple formula has correctly predicted the result of every