Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 4, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

KERRY AND EDWARDS?....Is it true that sitting senators don't often win presidential elections? Yes it is, but it's just a meaningless factoid.

I agree. But since I like meaningless factoids, let's turn our attention to the second spot on the ticket and ask the question that's on everyone's mind: will John Kerry pick John Edwards to be his vice president? What do the factoids tell us?

Just this: presidential candidates don't usually pick primary opponents to be their running mate. It's only happened three times since World War II and only once in the past 40 years. Here's the complete rundown, excluding incumbents:

Year

Candidate

Running Mate

Ran for President?

1948

R: Thomas Dewey

Earl Warren

No

1952

R: Dwight Eisenhower
D: Adlai Stevenson

Richard Nixon
John Sparkman

No
No

1956

D: Adlai Stevenson

Estes Kefauver

Yes

1960

R: Richard Nixon
D: John F. Kennedy

Henry Cabot Lodge
Lyndon Johnson

No
Yes

1964

R: Barry Goldwater

William Miller

No

1968

R: Richard Nixon
D: Hubert Humphrey

Spiro Agnew
Edmund Muskie

No
No

1972

D: George McGovern

Tom Eagleton

No

1976

D: Jimmy Carter

Walter Mondale

No

1980

R: Ronald Reagan

George Bush

Yes

1984

D: Walter Mondale

Geraldine Ferraro

No

1988

R: George Bush
D: Michael Dukakis

Dan Quayle
Lloyd Bentsen

No
No

1992

D: Bill Clinton

Al Gore

No

1996

R: Bob Dole

Jack Kemp

No

2000

R: George W. Bush
D: Al Gore

Dick Cheney
Joe Lieberman

No
No


This is a funny result, isn't it? It may seem like primary opponents are the obvious choices for running mate, but for some reason the winners seldom agree. Or it could be the other way around: maybe the kind of people who run for president aren't very excited about settling for second place.

Naturally, this doesn't mean that Kerry won't pick Edwards. Still, it might be wise to start looking at the pool of candidates outside this year's crop of primary wannabes.

Coming next: when was the last time a nominee chose a running mate with the same first name?

Kevin Drum 12:59 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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