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Civics 101 – Lame Duck

In politics, a lame duck or outgoing politician is an elected official whose successor has already been elected or will be soon. The official is often seen as having less influence with other politicians due to the limited time left in office.

Key Points

  • The phrase “lame duck” was coined in the 18th century at the London Stock Exchange, to refer to a stockbroker who defaulted on his debts
  • In U.S. politics, the period between (presidential and congressional) elections in November and the inauguration of officials early in the following year is commonly called the “lame duck period”. A president is a lame duck after a successor has been elected, during which time the outgoing president and president-elect usually embark on a transition in power.
  • On November 7, 2020, Donald Trump also became a lame duck president when the 2020 election was called against him.

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