Insecure Presidents: The Construction of Legitimacy in Imperfect Elections

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper illustrates how presidents who lose the popular vote but win the Electoral College establish legitimacy. Using 5 cases (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016), I show how presidents in different eras tried to establish themselves as legitimate despite elements of electoral insecurity. Using historical newspapers and primary documents, I find that construction of legitimacy has evolved over time and depends on both the circumstances of the election and the president's ability to acknowledge and confront their own insecurity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalCongress and the Presidency
    StateAccepted/In press - 2021

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations

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