The Key key. Note with particularity that you’re not the first to marvel at the structured prevarication called the election process.
In 1955, a political scientist named V. O. Key published an essay entitled “A Theory of Critical Elections.” He argued that realignments in American politics are usually punctuated by transformative elections, in which the old order suddenly gives way and a new majority emerges in its place.
This “realignment theory” was embraced by many scholars because it fit the historical record so well. Every 30 to 40 years, it seemed, the American political order had decisively turned over: in 1800, when Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans trounced John Adams’s Federalists; in 1828, when the Democratic-Republicans split into the Democrats and the Whigs; and then on down through Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 victory, William McKinley’s 1896 consolidation of a Republican majority, and the emergence of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition. [Source]