The Favorability Index - or 'FavIndx' - applies a numerical value (by way of our in-house formula) to a presidential candidate. The resulting value is based in the total number of states won and the overall victory spread in a given state - this becoming the candidate's 'favorability' rating showing just how popular (or unpopular) he/she was at the moment of victory/defeat. Generally, the larger the state victories and wider the victory spread, the greater the favorability score. However, in some races - particularly close ones - the losing candidate may score better than the winning candidate.
Based on our formula, two of the best performing candidates are Richard Nixon (1972) and Ronald Reagon (1984) while two of the worst performers are their counterparts, George McGovern (1972) and Walter Mondale (1984). The highest possible FavIndx rating achieved is by Republican Richard Nixon in the 1972 campaign with a score of 1355.5. When averaged out, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush (865.95 and 306.2, respectively) are the top-performing Republican candidates while Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (289.4 and 289.2, respectively) are the two top-performing Democratic candidates. Reagan, Bush, and Clinton (Bill) all scored better in their second outings (1078.1, 342.5, and 298.4, respectively) whereas Obama scored better in his first (322.8) when compared to his second (255.6). One rarity is Nixon appearing three times on this list and, each time, increasing his favorability score with each outing before finalyl securing the top spot. Of particular note is the top five candidates being leaders during the Cold War period (1947-1991). Favorability scores have become consistently close since the 1988 election.
For the 2020 election between incumbent Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden, Republican candidate Donald Trump (247.8) slipped in the FavIndx from his 2016 showing (347.3) against Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton (166.1) - but still managed to edge out Democratic challenger (and eventual winner) Joe Biden (242.1). Trump's 2020 score makes him the higest ranking loser of the list while Biden registers as the lowest ranking winner - reflecting a less-than-excited electorate for the 2020 Presidential Election cycle. Our 2024 election projection (based on historical data) sees the Republican candidate (unannounced as of this publishing) coming out on top with a score of 263.2 versus the losing Democrat's 180.4 score (this candidate also unannounced). This indicates a Republican candidate that will compare slightly less favorably to 1968's Nixon and a Democratic candidate slightly better favored than 2016's Hillary Clinton.
REPUBLICAN Candidate Overall Average 366.2 Out of 8 Election Victories Avg Candidate Winning Score: 596.0
DEMOCRAT Candidate Overall Average 197.2 Out of 8 Election Victories Avg Candidate Winning Score: 327.3