There's a popular show on Netflix that is about American politics called House of Cards. It's quite excellent, even if it's prone to binge-watching. Don't worry. There will not be any spoilers in this post.
One of the plot lines centers around the potential campaign for the gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania. As the Vice-President was the governor of Pennsylvania. Although there is some suspension of disbelief that I'll talk about on a later post about the presidential election and some other things, too, it's an intriguing storyline. When the former position of the Vice-President was revealed, it got me curious. I was mainly curious as to what position the President had prior to running for President to see how the two of them came together. Apparently, I missed what position he had or they didn't reveal it.
According to Wikipedia, the President was a Senator from California. It got me curious, how often is the pairing for President and Vice-President Senator+Governor. Or whatever. So, I wanted to look at it. Luckily, Nate Silver did some of the research already.
Silver drew his arbitrary line with the end of World War II. That seems like a fine place to start. Well, it's not that popular. Of the 26 men and women nominated for Vice-President, only 4 of them have been governors. Silver cautions about including Ed Muskie since he was a Senator when he was nominated.
Let's look at the data with just Vice-President nominees. For the sake of compiling the data, I'm using the most recent position held by the nominee.
1948 Republican nominee: Earl Warren. Well, Warren was the governor of California beginning in 1942. Warren was later nominated for the Supreme Court.
1968 Republican nominee: Spiro Agnew. Agnew was governor of Maryland when he was nominated. Agnew was the only vice-president to resign from the vice-presidency with a scandal looming.
2008 Republican nominee: Sarah Palin. Palin was governor of Alaska when she was nominated by John McCain. Palin is now a visiting professor at Harvard. You read that right.
1964 Republican nominee: William E. Miller. Miller was a Congressman from New York when he was nominated. Fun fact: his Wikipedia page is boring.
1984 Republican nominee: Geraldine Ferraro. Ferraro was a Congresswoman from New York when she was nominated.
1996 Republican nominee: Jack Kemp. I'm placing Kemp here because he was a Congressman from 1971-1989. He was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1989-1993.
2012 Republican nominee: Paul Ryan. Ryan was a member of the Houe from Wisconsin when he was nominated.
1948 Democratic nominee: Alben W. Barkley. Barkley was a Senator from Kentucky when he was nominated. He also served as a Congressman prior to being a Senator.
1952 Democratic nominee: John Sparkman. Sparkman was a Senator when he was nominated. He had previously served in the House of Representatives.
1952 Republican nominee: Richard Nixon. Nixon was a Senator from California when he was nominated. He had served in the Senate prior to becoming a Senator.
1956 Democratic nominee: Estes Kefauver: Kefauver was a Senator from Tennessee when he was nominated. Also, a former member of the House.
1960 Democratic nominee: Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson was a Senator when he was nominated. Fun fact: Johnson served in all four federal elected positions. So did Nixon. Strange. Back to back. So weird.
1960 Republican nominee: Henry Cabot Lodge. He served as Senator when he was nominated.
1964 Democratic nominee: Hubert H. Humphrey. Humphrey was serving as Senator of Minnesota when he was nominated.
1968 Democratic nominee: Ed Muskie. Muskie was Senator from Maine when he was selected. He had previously been governor there.
1976 Republican nominee: Bob Dole. Dole was a Senator from Kansas. He served in the House prior to becoming a Senator.
1976 Democratic nominee: Walter Mondale. Mondale was a Senator from Minnesota when he was nominated.
1988 Democratic nominee: Lloyd Bentsen. Bentsen was a Senator from Texas when he was nominated. Like most of the Senators here, he was a member of the House before being a Senator.
1988 Republican nominee: Dan Quayle. Quayle was a Senator from Indiana when he was nominated. He served in the House prior to being a Senator.
1992 Democratic nominee: Al Gore. Gore was a Senato from Tennessee when he was nominated. He served one term in the House, too.
2000 Democratic nominee: Joe Lieberman. Lieberman was a Senator from Connecticut when he was nominated.
2004 Democratic nominee: John Edwards. Edwards was a Senator from North Carolina when he was nominated.
2008 Democratic nominee: Joe Biden. Biden was a Senator from Delaware when he was nominated.
1972 Democratic nominee: Sargent Schriver. Schriver was among other things an ambassador to France. He was the driving force behind the Peace Corps, too.
1980 Republican nominee: George H.W. Bush. Bush was the Director of the CIA 1976-1977. He was a Congressman from 1967-1971. He was also a director on the conspiracy loved group the Council on Foreign Relations.
2000 Republican nominee: Dick Cheney. Cheney was a Congressman from Wyoming from 1979-1989. He was the Secretary of Defense from 1989-1993. I'm placing him in the at-large category because there was such a large gap between being a Congressman and being nominated.
The at-large candidates could shrink to two or one depending on how you classify George H.W. Bush and/or Dick Cheney.
If you're going to bet on someone being vice-president, history suggests it will be a Senator. If it's not a Senator, ther is not a safe bet as the other positions (governor, congressman, and at-large) have the same number of vice-president nominees.
Next time, we'll look at the positions held by presidential nominees. Then we'll look at the combinations. Then we'll wrap it up by suggesting a method to predict presidential tickets.