Saturday, September 29, 2012

Political Trivia: Ryan's Odds

There's still a bit over a month to go before the Presidential election, and the debates have yet to start, so much can still change, but recent trends show that President Obama is headed for re-election, and that Governor Romney's campaign is tanking hard.

This has led much of the punditry to focus on Romney running-mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, and how he plays the next month with an eye to running for President himself in 2016. This led me to wonder, what are the odds of a losing Vice-Presidential candidate going on to eventually a) get their party's nomination for President, and b) actually win the Presidency?

It turns out, odds are that after November 7, Ryan becomes not much more than a footnote in history books.

Since the dawn of the modern political parties (1828 for the Democrats and 1856 for the Republicans), only two losing VP candidates have gone on to win their party's nomination, and only one of those went on to win the Presidency.

In 1920, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the losing VP candidate under James M. Cox on the Democratic ticket. FDR, of course, went on to win the Democratic nomination and the Presidency in 1932 (and re-elected in '36, '40, and '44).

On the Republican side, Bob Dole was incumbent President Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976, and himself captured the nomination in 1996, losing to incumbent President, Bill Clinton. (Note, Dole was not the incumbent VP in '76, Nelson Rockefeller was Ford's appointed VP.)

So, if you consider that from 1828 through 2008 there have been 46 Presidential elections, that means  there have been 92 major party VP candidate opportunities (some years have included more than two major contenders, but we'll keep the math simple here for a Saturday morning).

That makes the odds of Paul Ryan eventually getting the Republican Party's Presidential nomination (assuming a loss this November 6, please) 2:92, or 2.17% and sets his odds of being elected President at 1:92, or 1.09%. Those are pretty long odds, but somehow, I'm still not comforted.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Five Brave Republicans

By now you've all read the news that the Veterans Job Corp bill failed to pass the US Senate yesterday by only two votes. You've probably also heard that this was a surprise, as it was purposely crafted to be bi-partisan and non-political, with input from Republicans as well as Democrats.

Whether the Republican change of heart was due, as they claim, to the bill's costs, or whether, as many believe, it was because they felt putting anybody to work (veteran or not) just before the election would help President Obama's re-election efforts, is not the point of this post.

While every other liberal bloggers is shaming the Republicans who contributed to the bill, only to vote against it, I'd like to take a few moments to thank the five Republican Senators who actually voted their conscience, and chose to help our veterans, and our country, and put policy above politics for at least this one issue.

They are: Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, each of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Of course, some might say, it's easy to be brave if you're not running for re-election this year. Olympia Snowe is retiring from her Senate seat, so this may be one of her last votes ever, but she has many times demonstrated her independence from the Republican leadership. In fact, her frustration with the current Republican mind-set of destroying Obama before fixing America may be part of her decision to not seek re-election. I would like to thank Senator Snowe for her service to our country.

Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are each in safe seats this year, so this vote may or may not come back to haunt them later. Even so, there are many more Republican Senators in safe seats (Senators face re-election every six years), why are there only two willing to vote for jobs for veterans? Safe or not, it takes courage to cross party lines these days.

Scott Brown and Dean Heller are each facing re-election this year, which makes their votes even more important. Brown is running in traditionally liberal Massachusetts against the nationally known (and funded) Elizabeth Warren. Some might dismiss this move as just playing to local biases, but considering that when Brown first entered the Senate (filling Ted Kennedy's old seat) it was feared he'd be the furthest right tea-bagger of them all, he still deserves to be thanked for this vote.

I know less about Heller, other than that he's a recent appointee now running for the first time to continue in the Senate. For a "new guy," who probably needs the help of the National RNC in his election, to buck the tide and go against the party is, to me, a positive sign of independence.

Okay, enough positivity and praising of Republicans. I will use this one paragraph to point out those who voted against this bill. Or, rather, one Republican Senator in particular. I find it dishonorable and disgusting (but not surprising) that "the mother of all mavericks," John McCain, is not on this list of those who put veterans above party. Shame on you, Senator McCain.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Why I'll Be Walking

On September 22, 2012, I will be participating in the 2012 Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's, and am committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer research, care, and support. Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.

Beyond the statistics, and the numbers, this is personal. I have seen Alzheimer's take its toll on a number of people, including my grandmother, my wife's grandmother, and now watching the slow decline of my own father.

Walking on September 22 won't be easy for me either. I had foot surgery at the end of June. In August, my foot was still bandaged and I was walking with a cane. Only on September 2nd did I actually walk for a full mile. Sure, I was sore, but that's what ice packs are for. I still have a screw in my foot, but that's nothing compared to Alzheimer's. I'm doing this.

But, I need your support! Please click this link and make a donation to help the Alzheimer's Association advance research into prevention, treatments and a cure for Alzheimer's. For the millions already affected by the disease, the Association offers care, education, support and resources in communities nationwide.

Thank you for your help!

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