Sunday, February 24, 2013

Predicting presidential tickets: Part 1

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.

Governors (3):
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.

Congressman (4):
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.

Senators (16):

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.

At-large (3):

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.




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