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.

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