So in an evasive action when asked about his own plans for 2016, Paul Ryan finally brimmed over with admiration for his 2012 running-mate and said he would “drive his bus” if the Mittster ran again. And then he resorted to the tired woulda shoulda coulda cliches losing candidates so often deploy (per The Hill‘s Peter Schroeder):

Ryan said that he believed that a lot of voters now had “buyer’s remorse” about giving Obama a second term.

“A lot of the things [Romney] said in the campaign, projections he made … were true,” he said.

Yeah, yeah. You hear this talk every time a winning candidate loses some popularity. Why not do a do-over?

Truth is, it rarely happens, and when it does, it almost never works. Since the advent of the Second Party System in the 1830s, there have been five presidential candidates who lost a presidential election and were renominated by their party the next cycle. One, Grover Cleveland in 1988-92, barely counts since he won the 1884 election. Adlai Stevenson (1952-56), Tom Dewey (1944-48) and William Jennings Bryan (1896-1900) all failed. Only William Henry Harrison pulled off the immediate rematch, but even that is misleading, since he was a regional candidate first time around (additionally, it was the Panic of 1827, not “buyer’s remorse,” that probably lifted Ol’ Tip over Martin Van Buren in 1840).

It’s not, moreover, like Mitt Romney headed up an ideological faction of the party, or had a deep personal following (other than perhaps fellow LDS folk). He could theoretically be a fallback candidate if all hell breaks out, or if someone else is cruising to the nomination and it turns out they regularly celebrate black masses. Short of that, those purporting to promote the idea of a Romney Return have ulterior motives, like Ryan keeping his powder dry.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.