Once upon a time, about two months ago, we created a tool that would tell you who was leading in the presidential primaries at this point in 2004, 2008 and 2016. We even made a little Twitter account, @pastfrontrunner, which every morning would tweet out an update on who it was that was leading at that point in the race.

For people who weren't enthusiastic about the prospect of Donald Trump winning the nomination, it was some small consolation: Look at the diversity of weirdos who at some point had led his or her party's nomination race!

Well, now a large number of people would like some consolation that Trump won't win the general election, and we are here to oblige. Granted, the fact that past primaries wobbled and weaved didn't end up meaning a whole lot in terms of what would happen this year, but, nonetheless: Perspective is always nice to have.

So we pulled data from the RealClearPolitics polling average for 2004, 2008 and 2012 — and, for good measure, what we've got so far this year.

This is how George W. Bush-John Kerry, Barack Obama-John McCain and Obama-Mitt Romney looked, with Hillary Clinton-Trump as a dollop of whipped cream on top.


As of Thursday, there were 180 days until the election. Of the 540 days that made up the last 180 days of the past three races, the person who ended up winning led in 79 percent of them. There's some back-and-forth — but the person who wins has led pretty consistently. Clinton's lead in the most recent Real Clear Politics average, 6.4 points, was exceeded by past winners only 6 percent of the time. It's a big lead, in other words.

But, then, past experience suggested that Trump's lead in the primaries would collapse, and we saw what happened there. So, as of right this minute, whenever you read this between now and Nov. 8, here's how the past contests stood.

We're talking about only three elections here. So don't be surprised if your hopes and dreams are crushed, as usual.