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When vice presidents run for president, they don't tend to win. But they do better now than they used to…
Prior to the Eisenhower/Nixon era of the early '50s, 30% of vice presidents who ran made it to the oval office (the other 70% superseded the president after his death). After that period, 40% of vice presidents successfully advanced – an improvement, albeit a small one.
This table shows the vice presidents who became president pre-Nixon era:
|VICE PRESIDENTS||PRESIDENT SERVED UNDER||YEAR(S) SERVED|
|John Adams||George Washington||1789-1797|
|Thomas Jefferson||John Adams||1797-1801|
|Martin Van Buren||Andrew Jackson||1833-1837|
|John Tyler||William Henry Harrison||1941||Became President after Harrison's death|
|Millard Fillmore||William Henry Harrison||1849-1850||Became President after Tayler's death|
|Andrew Johnson||Abraham Lincoln||1865||Became President after Lincoln's assassination|
|Chester A. Arthur||James A. Garfield||1881||Became President after Garfield's assassination|
|Theodore Roosevelt||William McKinley||1901||Became President after McKinley's assassination|
|Calvin Coolidge||Warren Harding||1921-1923||Became President after Harding's death|
|Harry Truman||Franklin D. Roosevelt||1945||Became President after Roosevelt's death|
And this table shows VPs who became president during and after the Nixon era:
|VICE PRESIDENTS||PRESIDENT SERVED UNDER||YEAR(S)|
|Richard Nixon||Dwight Eisenhower||1953-1961||Lost Presidential Run in 1961; won Presidential run in 1969|
|Lyndon B. Johnson||John F. Kennedy||1961-1963||Became President after Kennedy was assassinated|
|Gerald Ford||Richard Nixon||1973-1974||Became President after Nixon resigned|
|George H.W. Bush||Ronald Reagan||1981-1989|
VPs have fared better modernly because their roles have changed greatly since the U.S. Constitution was first drafted in 1787.
You see, before the Eisenhower/Nixon era, VPs didn't often run for president. This was because their title had little prestige and was often overshadowed by the clout of their opponents, who were recent governors, senators, and congressmen. "As it occurred, for 140 years, the primary role of the vice president was legislative and without much influence," states The Heritage Guide to the Constitution.
But Eisenhower and Nixon significantly changed the role of vice president…
In 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower became president with his running mate, Sen. Richard M. Nixon, at his side. In his book "The Rise of the Vice Presidency," Irving Williams wrote that, as VP, Nixon "exercised greater power and responsibility in the 1953-57 term than had any of his predecessors." Indeed, Eisenhower assigned Nixon to act as a presidential liaison to Congress and representative in Republican political campaigns. Nixon also served Eisenhower as a special envoy, undertaking seven missions, during which he visited 54 countries.
Following Nixon's run as vice president, future VPs began to take on more responsibility. They became more than "just-in-case" stand-ins should a president die…
When Vice Presidents Run for President: The Hard Numbers
Since Nixon's election as president in 1960, we've had seven VPs run for office: Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, Nixon (again), Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, and Al Gore. Of these, Nixon and Bush won.
These modern vice presidents' success rates have been 100% successful at the primary level (VPs including and after Nixon). But when it comes to VPs' electoral successes, a vice president has emerged successful in only two out of five instances, or roughly 40% of the time.
Forty percent isn't terrible, but it is still less than half. So it begs the question: Why is it hard for vice presidents to actually win the presidency? After all, who else is better qualified to take the helm next than the previous "Second in Command"?
Well, according to a March 3, 2014, article on CNN.com, vice presidents who run immediately after their tenure as VP have it rough because they're running in the wake of their predecessor's most controversial decisions…
When Vice Presidents Run for President: Biden and Gore 2016
CNN's article focuses primarily on the likely fate of Joe Biden, should he run for president. It asserts he would likely be unsuccessful because of current U.S. President Barack Obama's low exiting approval rating, as well as the president's tendency to split parties. And this article was published well before the president's most recent acts of what some consider to be extremely contentious moves – the Iran nuclear deal, the Cuban embargo lift, his decision to confront Kenyan politicians on terrorism surges, and gay rights.
CNN released the first CNN/ORC poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers on Aug. 13. It has Biden in 3rd place with 12%, after Clinton (50%) and Sanders (31%).
And speaking of presidential candidates who aren't officially in the race, there have been reports about former VP Al Gore throwing his hat into the 2016 presidential election ring as well. The likelihood of Gore winning the nomination, however, is unknown.
There is one factor that might boost both the former VPs' as-of-yet hypothetical bids. Perry Bacon Jr., NBC News' Senior Political Reporter, told MSNBC on Aug. 16 that Gore's and Biden's chances may improve due to present controversy surrounding Democratic frontwoman Hillary Clinton.
Bacon pointed out we're still far away from the primaries. Many factors can and will change. And while, historically, VPs have not fared well running for president immediately after their vice presidential terms, anything is possible.
Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags: Ohio Gov. John Kasich officially entered the presidential race on June 21. The Republican candidate and his family have a combined net worth of $9.1 million to $22 million. That's a big jump, isn't it? Well, there's one person responsible for Kasich's heavy pocket. Remove this person and Kasich would be like a turtle without his shell…
- The Heritage Guide to the Constitution: Vice President