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|-+  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion
| |-+  U.S. Presidential Election Results (Moderator: True Federalist)
| | |-+  Political experience of Presidential candidates.
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Author Topic: Political experience of Presidential candidates.  (Read 631 times)
old timey villain
cope1989
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« on: April 24, 2012, 04:00:52 am »
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I started thinking about how many years in political office presidential candidates typically have. I'm talking about how long they've held any elected political office, be it local state or national, prior to running. I only have the results for challengers and open elections. I feel like with an incumbent, the whole experience issue becomes moot. I started with 1980.

80'-Ronald Reagan: 8 years as governor. (I realize he was president of SAG, but that's not really the political experience I'm looking for)

84'- Walter Mondale: 20 years combined (4 as attorney general, 12 as senator and 4 as VP)

88'-
     George Bush: 13 years (4 in congress, 8 as VP, and 1 as RNC chairman, debatable, I know)
     Michael Dukakis: 20 years (12 as gov, 8 in the state house)

92'-
    Clinton: Almost 14: (2 as atty general, 2 first term a Gov, serves again from Jan 1982-Dec 92)
    Perot: 0 years (but that was the point, same goes for 96')

96'- Bob Dole: About 45.5 years (2 in kansas state house, 8 as county attorney, 8 in US house, about 27.5 as senator. He resigned in July of '96 I guess to focus on his campaign)

00'
   Gore- 24 years (8 in US house, 8 in senate, 8 as VP)
   Bush- almost 6 years (became gov in Jan of 95, stepped down in Dec of 2000)

04'- Kerry- 22 (2 as Lt gov and 20 in the senate)

08'
    McCain- 26 years (4 in house, 22 in senate)
    Obama- almost 12 (nearly 8 years in state senate, nearly 4 four years in US senate. He resigned in November from both positions on his way to higher ones, cutting them short)

12'
    Romney- assuming he's the nominee- 4 years (4 as Mass gov)


and the award for shortest amount of time holding previous office for a prez candidate since 1980 goes to Mitt Romney, with only four years of elected office under his belt.

and the much more prestigious award for longest amount of time holding political office goes to Bob Dole, who just wouldn't quit for over 45 years. Very, very impressive.

In the open elections, it seems like the less experienced candidate has the statistical advantage. This was the case in 1988, 2000 and 2008. If you go back further to 1968, 1960 and 1952 I think the same rule applies.

My theory is that open elections tend to be more about change. People would rather vote for a fresher face that one who's been in politics and the public eye for years.


« Last Edit: April 24, 2012, 04:04:55 am by cope1989 »Logged

Can't we all just get along?
#Ready4Nixon
Cathcon
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2012, 06:48:26 am »
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Why don't you include non-elected positions? After all, GHW (in my opinion) got some valuable experience as an ambassador (twice) & as DCI.

But yes, it seems you're right fir the most part.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 09:31:02 pm by Cathcon »Logged

Vazdul (Formerly Chairman of the Communist Party of Ontario)
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2012, 09:57:33 am »
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I find it interesting that in every election since 1980, the more experienced candidate (by your definition of amount of time serving) lost. You mentioned in the OP that it happened 1988, 2000, and 2008, but notice that it also held true in 1980, 1984, 1992, 1996, and 2004.

Let's go back further:

1976:
  • Ford: 27 years (~2.5 as President, ~.5 as VP, 24 in the House)
  • Carter: 8 years (4 as Governor, 4 as State Senator

1972:
  • Nixon: 18 years (4 as President, 8 as VP, 2 as Senator, 4 in the House)
  • McGovern: 14 years (10 as Senator, 4 in the House)

1968:
  • Nixon: 14 years (8 as VP, 2 as Senator, 4 in the House)
  • Humphrey: 24 years (5 as VP, 16 as Senator, 3 as Mayor)
  • Wallace: 4 years (as Governor)[/i]
1964:
  • Johnson: 28 years (1 as President, 3 as VP, 12 as Senator, 12 in the House)
  • Goldwater: 12 years (as Senator)

1960:
  • Kennedy: 14 years (8 as Senator, 6 in the House)
  • Nixon: 14 years (8 as VP, 2 as Senator, 4 in the House)

1956:
  • Eisenhower: 4 years (as President)
  • Stevenson: 4 years (as Governor)

1952:
  • Eisenhower: 0 years
  • Stevenson: 4 years (as Governor)

So, not counting third parties,  the least experienced (by this definition) candidate won in every post-FDR Presidential election except 1956, 1960, 1964, and 1972. '64 and '72 can be explained by the fact that the loser was a particularly bad candidate. '56 was a rematch between an incumbent and the loser from four years before. And '60 was between two equally experienced candidates, but I'd give Nixon's experience as VP more weight, so you could say that Nixon was the more experienced of the two.

So if Romney loses this November, we can honestly draw comparisons between him and the likes of McGovern and Goldwater as far as epic failures go.
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retromike22
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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 06:56:24 pm »
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Hey I made a thread of this a while back, my point was that Romney and Obama would have lower political experience than most other elections:

http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=148344.0
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http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=181696.0
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