An Analysis Of Vice Presidential Selection 1960-2012 Strongly Favors The Democrats Over The Republicans

One can gain a lot of understanding about the two major political parties when one examines the history of Vice Presidential selection by the major party Presidential candidates between 1960 and 2012, a total of 14 national elections.

If one looks at the Democratic Party, it is fact that ALL but one time, the Democratic Presidential nominee chose a sitting United States Senator to be his running mate as follows:

1960–Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas
1964–Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota
1968–Edmund Muskie of Maine
1972–Tom Eagleton of Missouri
1976–Walter Mondale of Minnesota
1980–Walter Mondale of Minnesota
1988–Lloyd Bentsen of Texas
1992–Al Gore of Tennessee
1996–Al Gore of Tennessee
2000-Joe Lieberman of Connecticut
2004–John Edwards of North Carolina
2008–Joe Biden of Delaware
2012–Joe Biden of Delaware

The only exception was 1984, when Walter Mondale selected Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his Vice Presidential running mate.

Also, after Tom Eagleton dropped out as the Vice Presidential running mate of George McGovern in 1972, due to having been revealed as having had psychiatric treatment, Sergeant Shriver, the former Peace Corps Director, head of the War On Poverty, Ambassador to France, and Kennedy in law, replaced him on the ticket.

All of the ten US Senators who ran for Vice President came to the national ticket as outstanding legislators with solid records of accomplishments, while Ferraro might be considered the weak link, the only real such case, for the Democratic national tickets. The only Senator who, in retrospect, might be considered not an ideal choice would be Edwards, for the personal life scandals that were revealed in later years.

Also, all of these Vice Presidential selections sought the Presidency after being chosen as a VP running mate, and Mondale, Gore, and Biden served notably as Vice President, all adding to the prestige of the office.

On the other hand, the Republicans had a very different scenario, as only four times out of fourteen did they select a United States Senator as their Vice Presidential choice for a national campaign, as follows:

1960—Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts (former Senator 1936-1952)
1976— Bob Dole of Kansas
1988—Dan Quayle of Indiana
1992—Dan Quayle of Indiana

Three times, the Republicans selected state governors as their Vice Presidential nominees, as follows:

1968—Spiro Agnew of Maryland
1972—Spiro Agnew of Maryland
2008—Sarah Palin of Alaska

But most commonly, the Republicans for a total of seven times selected a member or former member of the House of Representatives, as follows:

1964—William E. Miller of New York
1980—George H.W. Bush of Texas
1984—George H. W. Bush of Texas
1996—Jack Kemp of New York
2000—Dick Cheney of Wyoming
2004—Dick Cheney of Wyoming
2012—Paul Ryan of Wisconsin

Out of these 14 cases, it is clear that Quayle, Agnew and Palin, in particular, stand out as horrible choices, and with the nation being burdened with nearly five years of Agnew and four years of Quayle in the Vice Presidency.

At the same time, Miller seems a nonentity who was chosen, and Cheney and Ryan, while competent, both stood out as particularly controversial selections, based on their public record in the past and the future as well.

Only Dole, Bush, and Kemp stand out as noncontroversial choices.

So it is clear that the Democrats have been much wiser in their Vice Presidential choices than the Republicans in the past half century!

5 comments on “An Analysis Of Vice Presidential Selection 1960-2012 Strongly Favors The Democrats Over The Republicans

  1. D April 17, 2015 9:31 am


    This is very telling!

    The Democrats like to have vice-presidential running mates who are, at the time of nomination, United States senators. (Take this back to the start of television, and add Kentucky’s Alben Barkey, in 1948, who was elected vice president with a full-term presidential victory for Harry Truman; and also add Alabama’s John Sparkman, in 1952, and Tennessee’s Estes Kefauver, in 1956, both Adlai Stevenson’s running mates in Stevenson’s losses.)

    I think a presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would select a vice-presidential running mate who was born, at the earliest, in 1960 (on par with President Barack Obama, who was born in 1961). I would consider ones also born in the 1970s.

    A contrast in age may be a part of the reason. In 1980, a 69-year-old Ronald Reagan selected a 56-year-old George Bush as his running mate. In 1988, a 64-year-old George Bush selected a 42-year-old Dan Quayle as his v.p.

    I think this helps, in the minds of party leaders, to diffuse any controversial questions and concerns (whether or not they’re sincere) about a presidential nominee’s age. It is, in hindsight, no surprise that the losing 2008 and 2012 Republican nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, selected v.p.s who were young enough to be their offspring. (McCain was born 28 years before Sarah Palin. Romney was born 23 years prior to Paul Ryan, the first-ever vice-presidential nominee born after the 1960s.)

    So, I’ve come up with a list, fitting the description, which reads as follows:

    • Connecticut — Chris Murphy (b. 08.03.1973, White Plains, New York)
    • Delaware — Chris Coons (09.09.1963, Greenwich, Connecticut)
    • Hawaii — Brian Schatz (10.20.1972, Ann Arbor, Michigan)
    • Minnesota — Amy Klobuchar (05.25.1972, Plymouth, Minnesota)
    • New Jersey — Cory Booker (04.27.1969, Washington, D.C.)
    • New Mexico — Martin Heinrich (10.17.1971, Fallon, Nevada)
    • Pennsylvania — Bob Casey (04.13.1960, Scranton, Pennsylvania)
    • Wisconsin — Tammy Baldwin (02.11.1962, Madison, Wisconsin)

    I wouldn’t want to do any predicting now; but using one’s imagination is no harm. I think, in narrowing it down to four, I’m comfortable citing two. Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, who is very electable (in his state and nationwide) and Hawaii’s Brian Schatz, who was that state’s lieutenant governor at the time he was appointed to the Senate seat (after the December 2012 death of Daniel Inouye) and won a full-term election in 2014. Both are attractive possibilities…for different reasons. (I just named two. I invite Ronald to use that list and suggest two more.)

    Not making the list: Colorado’s Michael Bennet, born 11.28.1964, in New Dehli, India. So, he’s not legally qualified.

    On the cusp: Virginia’s Tim Kaine and Washington’s Maria Cantwell are examples. They were both born in 1958. (Kaine was born 02.26.1958, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Cantwell was born 10.13.1958, in Indianapolis, Indiana.)

    [italic]Here they are:[/italic] Connecticut’s [bold]Chris Murphy[/bold] (b. 08.03.1973, White Plains, New York); Delaware’s [bold]Chris Coons[/bold] (09.09.1963, Greenwich, Connecticut); Hawaii’s [bold]Brian Schatz[/bold] (10.20.1972, Ann Arbor, Michigan); Minnesota’s [bold]Amy Klobuchar[/bold] (05.25.1972, Plymouth, Minnesota); New Jersey’s [bold]Cory Booker[/bold] (04.27.1969, Washington, D.C.); New Mexico’s [bold]Martin Heinrich[/bold] (10.17.1971, Fallon, Nevada); Pennsylvania’s [bold]Bob Casey[/bold] (04.13.1960, Scranton, Pennsylvania); and Wisconsin’s [bold]Tammy Baldwin[/bold] (02.11.1962, Madison, Wisconsin).

    [italic]Not making the list:[/italic] Colorado’s Michael Bennet, born 11.28.1964, in New Dehli, India. So, he’s not legally qualified.

    [italic]On the cusp:[/italic] Virginia’s Tim Kaine and Washington’s Maria Cantwell are examples. They were both born in 1958. (Kaine was born 02.26.1958, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Cantwell was born 10.13.1958, in Indianapolis, Indiana.)

  2. D April 17, 2015 9:34 am

    Quick correction: Dan Quayle, the 44th vice president of the United States, was born in 1947. (I was thinking, incorrectly, 1946.) So, Vice President Dan Quayle was 41 years old in the year 1988.

  3. D April 17, 2015 9:38 am

    Another correction: In my first post response, I had a formatting issue that should be disregarded—or, better yet, removed (edited out), if that’s possible. (Sorry about that!)

  4. D April 17, 2015 9:42 am

    One more correction:

    Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar was born in 1960.

    (So sorry about this! It was never my intention to have come close to spamming.)

  5. Ronald April 17, 2015 10:09 am

    D, I am so happy you chimed in, with your brilliant insights, and wish you would do this more often!

    Yes, one can go back to 1948 and see that even in 1948 and 1952 and 1956, US Senators were selected as Democratic VP running mates—Alben Barkley in 1948, John Sparkman in 1952, and Estes Kefauver in 1956. And both Barkley and Kefauver sought the Presidency, joining the rest of the others starting in 1960 with the exception of Eagleton, so Sparkman is the only Senator running for VP who never expressed interest in being or running for President!

    And in fact, even in 1944, Truman came from the Senate (without Presidential ambitions) to be FDR’s fourth term running mate!

    D, your list of potential running mates in the Senate, who are younger, is quite fascinating, but I will disagree on who you think are the best choices—Casey is anti abortion, so NOT a good choice for the Democrats, and Schatz (who is Jewish) comes from too insignificant a state, Hawaii (although you could argue the same for Muskie and Biden, but both of them were much more significant than Schatz has been, or is likely to be.)

    Klobuchar and Murphy would be my favorites from the list of eight that you mention, but would it be possible to have two women on the ticket?

    Baldwin would be a bold choice as a woman and a lesbian, but I would think that would be too daring for Hillary or anyone else to choose her, and again, two women on the ticket would not work, most likely.

    Booker would be a great choice and New Jersey would then be guaranteed Democratic, even if, somehow, Chris Christie made it to the GOP nomination, which I highly doubt would happen anyway.

    Coons and Heinrich are ho hum, not exciting, and not major state candidates, and as good as Coons is, he is not Joe Biden!

    Kaine and Cantwell would be good, particularly Kaine, from swing state Virginia, as would be, also, Mark Warner.

    As far as Bennet is concerned, hmmm, I would think he would be eligible to run, as his dad was working for the US government as an aide to Ambassador to India Chester Bowles, and probably was born at the US embassy hospital, which would be American territory. If Ted Cruz, born in Canada, is eligible, then why not Bennet? I am not sure of this, but it makes a lot of sense, and Bennet could help with the swing state of Colorado, and having been Superintendent of Schools in Denver, makes him even more qualified in many ways to be a VP running mate.

    So I welcome D and anyone else to comment on what I have just expressed here in reaction to what D had to say, and thanks again, D, for your great commentary, and keep it coming!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.