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Boo-who? How to cope if your candidate loses

NEED TO KNOW
  • Dealing with election loss can be rough emotionally
  • You can still make it easier on yourself, here's how
Some experts said coping with the fact that your candidate didn't win can be a really rough ride.

Chances are, a big downer will hit about half the country soon after it hears the results of Election Day.

And if your candidate loses, you may be in a real pickle. You can use all the PC code words in the book to describe it: Your candidate "failed to win," he "came short," "fought a good battle" and so on. But the bottom line is still "he lost" and that annoying other guy won.

So how do you move on?

Some experts said coping with the fact that your candidate didn't win can be a really rough ride. It's not only because of what you feel, but because you have to deal with the people whose guy won. In today's emotionally charged political environment, that may push your coping skills to the limit.

"It's the stuff that ulcers are made of," associate professor Jack Glasser at University Of California, Berkeley, told NBC, referring to the political climate.

“By the time an election comes to an end, it seems that the other side is evil and they have horns growing out of their heads,” says Shaun Dakin, 42, a Falls Church, Virginia, founder of a nonpartisan political nonprofit. “It seems like we’ll never talk again."

Read more: A family divided -- How to bridge political opposites

Take Andrew Lagner for example. The president of a conservative think tank in D.C. said that after George W. Bush's victory in 2004, he had a major falling out with a Democrat he had known since high school.

“When I called him after the election, he went into this frustrated diatribe about how he couldn’t understand how people could vote for Bush a second time,” says Langer. “When I offered up a handful of reasons, he slammed down the phone. I didn’t talk to him for 18 months after that and our friendship still has never really healed.”

Bonnie Russell wasn't even that lucky. She got into it with a friend of 40 years over former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

“I was so incredulous that she thought Palin was in any way viable that she got mad and hung up on me,” says Russell, a media relations executive in Del Mar, California. “I sent her an e-mail afterwards that said, I guess ‘I’ll talk to you after the election.’ But she didn’t write back.”  

So how do you prevent things from blowing up in your face?

First, remember that people matter more than politics.

“You may need some space from certain people until things have calmed down, but it’s important to remember that there’s a reason you love and value them,” said Anna Post of The Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vermont.

Second, set some ground rules for upcoming gatherings with family and friends. For example, let everyone know before that Thanksgiving dinner that the event will be politics-free. No ifs, ands or buts, no exceptions. No one goes there, period!

Post also told NBC that it's OK to cancel if you think politics may ruin the event for you. She even recommended a scapegoat: the economy!  Just say making the trip is too expensive.

Third, hang out more with people who think along the same political lines as you do.

Post said that spending time with them could be a good way to express your emotion, but there's also a trap: it can get you into the bitter territory.

"Make sure you use it only as an opportunity to make yourself feel better," post told NBC. "Don't use it as a way to stick it to the guy whose candidate has won".

Advice website eHow has a few more hints. It says you should bury the feelings of animosity toward the new president and replace them with hope. Keep in mind that negativity won't change anything; and try to believe the new president can still do some good things fro you.

Another tip is to try to understand the people who voted for the other guy. Maybe there is something about him that you are missing.

As a last resort, keep in mind that a presidential term is four years. The next election year could be another story.

Another expert recommends a very simple solution: Move on with your daily life.

“Take your spouse out a few times. Get into your kids’ football game,” said Dr. Stuart Twemlow, a psychiatrist at the Menninger Clinic and professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. “Repair to the satisfaction of day-to-day life.”

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