Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Americans traditionally don't like US Senators for President

One fascinating tidbit from this election that I have not seen anyone really expound upon: this year the US will elect a sitting Senator as President for the first time since 1960, and only the second time ever!

Here is a brief chart showing the highest previous office held by every President since 1904:

2000 George W. Bush Governor
1992 Bill Clinton Governor
1988 George HW Bush VP
1980 Ronald Reagan Governor
1976 Jimmy Carter Governor
1968 Richard Nixon VP
1964 Lyndon Johnson VP/Pres
1960 John F Kennedy Senator
1952 Dwight D Eisenhower General
1948 Harry S Truman VP/Pres
1932 FDR Governor
1928 Herbert Hoover Sec'y of Commerce
1924 Calvin Coolidge VP
1920 Warren Harding Senator
1912 Woodrow Wilson Governor
1908 William H Taft Sec'y of War
1904 Theodore Roosevelt VP/Pres

Harding was the first sitting senator to ever become President.

With the exception of Nixon, all vice presidents who became president were incumbents (at least in this time period.)

It appears that Americans trust governors far, far more as leaders than they do senators. The numbers seem to indicate an almost visceral distaste for senators - when senators go up against governors,

This could partially explain the appeal of Sarah Palin - even though she is a first-term governor, so were Jimmy Carter and FDR (although they were in office longer.) Americans seem to trust governors more with the presidency than they do Washington insiders; I believe that Harding was the only senator to ever defeat a governor for president.