Today is Presidents Day. There is a tendency to look back on the Presidency’s history, and assume that those who made it to the White House were a certainty, when the opposite is, actually, often the case!
Since 1900, many of our Presidents gained that office by pure luck and timing.
Theodore Roosevelt would never have been President if Vice President Garret Hobart, under President William McKinley, had not died in office in 1899, and therefore, not on the ticket with McKinley in 1900.
Woodrow Wilson would never have been President if the Republican Party had not split in 1912 between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt, and if there had not been a two thirds rule for the Democratic nominee in place, preventing Speaker of the House Champ Clark from being the Democratic nominee for President.
Richard Nixon would never have been President if the Democratic Party had not divided over Vietnam in the mid 1960s, and if George Wallace would not have run as a third party candidate in 1968.
Gerald Ford would never have been President if Vice Spiro Agnew had not been caught in corruption, forcing his resignation in 1973, and if there was no 25th Amendment, providing for a replacement Vice President by appointment of the President and approval by a majority of both houses of Congress.
Jimmy Carter would never have been President if the Watergate Scandal had not occurred, disillusioning many Americans about their national government, and finding a state governor as an appealing alternative, with his image as an “outsider” who would always tell the truth.
Bill Clinton would never have been President if the economy had not declined as it did in 1992, and if Ross Perot had not run on a third party line in that election, undermining George H. W. Bush.
George W. Bush would never have been President if the Supreme Court had not intervened, a revolutionary action, to stop the vote recount in Florida in 2000, with the reality that Al Gore had more than a half million popular vote lead nationally, and yet would lose the Presidency because of that action by the Supreme Court.
This list also does not include Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson, all of whom would never have been President if Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy had not died in office.