Sunday, November 2, 2008

On Vice Presidents

There has been a lot written about the people who are running for the Vice Presidency. A lot of that writing has expressed worry about the Vice Presidential candidate's possibly becoming President. The following is some data about the Vice Presidents our country has had up until now, which might put some people's minds at ease.

We have had 43 Presidents beginning with George Washington. There have been 46 Vice Presidents attached to those Presidents. We should note that for 42 years of our country's existence there were no Vice Presidents in office at all. Of those 46 Vice Presidents only 14 have gone on to become President: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, George Bush. Of those 14, eight of them served only one term or part of one term as President.

Eight Presidents died while in office, four from natural causes and four by assassination. They were: natural causes--William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt; Assassination--Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, John F. Kennedy. One President, Richard Nixon, was forced to resign. Of the Vice Presidents for these nine Presidents, five of them completed the remaining terms of the Presidents whom they succeeded into office; only four of them were elected to the Presidency after having completed the previous President's term in office.

In short, our history does not seem to support our concerns about those running for Vice President. Historically we have not "liked" Vice Presidential candidates sufficiently to elect them on their own merits. Only 1/3 of Vice Presidents have gone on to the Presidency--14 in all--and nine of them were not elected but were completing the terms of their Presidents. Only four were considered by voters to be sufficiently presidential to be elected. Given our history, even should something happen to either candidate running now for President, the chances of their vice presidential running mates being elected to the presidency is less than 10%.

Sorry, but could we focus on the issues rather than on the running mates, running mates who have mostly been inconsequential for the country?


Lion of Zion said...

i think people are concerned because mccain is not a spring chicken. but good point

Anonymous said...

I think you're right Lion but his age is relative. There were older candidates and ones with health issues years ago too but their older age was relative to what was considered old in their time period. Today 72 is not ancient or unusual for people to be active and having their full seichel. And electing someone because they are young is no guarantee either. Plenty of the past presidents died in their early 50s and 60s.

A Living Nadneyda said...

Your analysis is enlightening but I'm not sure if historical statistics are as accurate as individual ones. Apparently, statistical models have been set up to analyze the chances of McCain dying while in office, and they are rather high, due to his age and health problems.

There has always been problematic discrepancies between the VP-candidate-as-ticket-balancer, and VP-candidate-as-potential-president.

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned this year's presidential election is an interim election--no matter who wins they won't be serving for more then one term and their vice president, doesn't matter which one, won't get elected as president either. Somehow during the next four years we have to find and encourage to run for president someone with a better grasp of what is needed to be a president then the candidates we have now. All we can hope for with either of the candidates is that we can somehow contain them from veering too far off track and from causing too much upheaval.