President Trump’s reelection defeat makes him the 11th sitting president in US history to lose the White House in a general election campaign.
Ten of those were outright reelection bids. Gerald Ford, who ascended to the presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation, also lost his campaign to remain president in 1976.
The last president to lose a reelection bid was George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Grover Cleveland lost his reelection campaign in 1888 but won back the White House four years later by defeating sitting President Benjamin Harrison. He is the only president to have served two nonconsecutive terms.
This list does not include sitting presidents who did not receive their party's nomination for the next general election.
10 elected presidents lost their reelection campaigns:
- John Adams (1797-1801; lost to Thomas Jefferson in 1800)
- John Quincy Adams (1825-1829; lost to Andrew Jackson in 1828)
- Martin Van Buren (1837-1841; lost to William Henry Harrison in 1840)
- Grover Cleveland* (1885-1889; lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888)
- Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893; lost to Grover Cleveland in 1892)
- William H. Taft (1909-1913; lost to Woodrow Wilson in 1912)
- Herbert Hoover (1929-1933; lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932)
- Jimmy Carter (1977-1981; lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980)
- George H.W. Bush (1989-1993; lost to Bill Clinton in 1992)
- Donald Trump (2016-present; lost to Joe Biden in 2020)
1 non-elected president lost in the following general election:
- Gerald R. Ford** (1974-1977; lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976)
*Cleveland later won a second, nonconsecutive term
**Ford was not elected vice president or president