Those with long political memories will recall that a good deal of buzz sprang up around 1980 concerning a surprising coincidence in American history. Beginning in 1840, many political junkies pointed out, all the presidents elected in 20-year intervals — 1840, 1860, 1880, and so on — were either assassinated or died in office of natural causes. Check it out: It works for everyone from William Henry Harrison through JFK.

At that time, it was often said that 1980 would be a dangerous election. Whoever became the next president would also inevitably become the next target of the “jinx.”