Saturday, December 27, 2014

Numbing Number

With another potential Bush versus Clinton race for President, Bill Kristol tweets:

Random fact: Every winning GOP ticket since 1928 has had a Nixon or a Bush on it.

Like most stats about Presidential races, there's less here than meets the eye.  (My favorite meaningless statistic last race: a conservative friend noted no President even won a second term by getting a smaller percentage of the vote than in his first, and I told him then sit back and watch it happen for the first time.)

First, 1928 is a bit dishonest.  Okay, that was Hoover (who's probably related to Bush anyway--everyone is).  But then the GOP had a huge dry spell, and didn't win an election until 1952, when this streak actually starts.

Then you've got the Nixon years.  Eisenhower didn't think much of him, actually, but in the days of smoke-filled rooms, the party powerful figured this energetic Red hunter would help fill out the ticket, though Ike was going to be President no matter who got picked--Nixon was along for the ride.

If he hadn't been chosen, he probably wouldn't have been prominent enough to run in 1960 and lose. This allowed him to make a comeback in 1968 (which, admittedly, was impressive).  The timing was right and, after being kicked around, Nixon was the one.  Due to Watergate, he had to resign, so the Republicans ruled without a Nixon or Bush as Prez or Veep, but that new ticket didn't win the next election and thus don't exist in Kristol's accounting.

If anything, the story of H.W. is even less impressive than Nixon's.  He ran a losing campaign against Reagan, putting down Ronnie's plans as voodoo economics.  Gerald Ford was almost picked as Veep (and if he had we'd probably have Kristol tweets about a Ford in our future) but he wouldn't play second fiddle, so Bush was the safe, uninspired choice.  It was mostly thanks to Reagan's general popularity (and a weak campaign from Dukakis) that Bush got himself elected as President.  Once.

His son was more charismatic and a better politician, but still lost the popular vote to Gore the first time around. (Following Clinton was tough for Al--people were happy with the state of things, but didn't like BIll's personal life, so Gore had to distance himself somewhat, whereas Bush 41 had to run as the guy who'd follow through.)  And once you're President, you pretty much get to automatically run again if you want.

Overall, the Nixon/Bush thing worked out that way by chance.  It tells us little about our past and nothing about what's ahead.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well good analysis but the obvious thing I see is that Nixon/Bush is undefeated when second banana and lost twice when at the top

6:03 AM, December 27, 2014  

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