Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 22, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

KERRY'S VEEP....Atrios says today that he doesn't much care who John Kerry picks for his vice president. I get his point, but before you too decide it doesn't matter, take a look at this table of all vice presidents since World War II:

Vice President

What Happened?

Harry Truman

Became president in 1945 when FDR died.

Alben Barkley

Nothing.

Richard Nixon

Elected president in 1968.

Lyndon Johnson

Became president in 1963 when JFK was assassinated.

Hubert Humphrey

Ran for president in 1968.

Spiro Agnew

Resigned due to scandal in 1973.

Gerald Ford

Became president in 1974 when Nixon resigned.

Nelson Rockefeller

Nothing.

Walter Mondale

Ran for president in 1984.

George Bush Sr.

Elected president in 1988.

Dan Quayle

Nothing.

Al Gore

Ran for president in 2000.

So out of 12 vice presidents in the modern era, here's how they break down:

  • Five became president.

  • Three ran for president and lost.

  • One resigned in scandal.

  • Three served their terms and disappeared quietly.

It's true that it's hard for me to think of a recent case in which the vice presidential candidate actually affected the result of the election, and in that sense the VP pick is probably less important than people make it out to be.

But 41% of modern veeps have eventually become president and another 25% have been their party's candidate for president. That's a mighty big "but."

All the political horse race stuff to the contrary, Kerry's choice probably won't really affect his chance of winning the election one way or the other. But if he does win in November, there's an excellent chance that his vice president will eventually become either president or a losing candidate for president and that's a far more important consideration than whether someone will help him win a few extra votes in Missouri. If you get my drift.

Kevin Drum 3:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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