Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Check Mate: Does Rick Perry Play Chess?

Bookmark and Share

None of the last five Republican presidents were chess players, whereas eight of the last nine Democratic presidents played the game

rickperry10.jpgFrom the folks-will-make-of-this-what-they-will files, a recent article published at ChessBase compiled a table listing which presidents in U.S. history played chess, as determined by reports in various news articles and presidential biographies.

A perusal of the list finds one eyebrow-raising trend over the past 125+ years.

Since the Chester Arthur administration in the early 1880s, 89 percent of Democratic presidents have been chess players (8 of 9), compared to just 29 percent of Republicans (4 of 14).

The only Democratic president dating back to Grover Cleveland who did not play chess was the nation's 36th President, Lyndon B. Johnson.

Every other Democratic president during this span is reported to be a chess player - from a casual dabbler in the game, such as Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, to more serious players such as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Clinton was a member of the chess team while an undergrad at Georgetown University in the late 1960s.

As a whole, Republican presidents over the last century have been less taken by the sport.

In fact, none of the last five Republican presidents were chess players: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. (Note: Though Nixon did famously deliver an emotional "Checkers speech" - referencing his family dog - while under scrutiny for improprieties in handling his campaign funds as a Vice-Presidential nominee in 1952).

That was not the case, however, among the early Republican presidents of the 19th Century.

The first four such GOPers - Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, and James Garfield - all partook in the centuries-old game a great deal.

The four Twentieth Century Republican presidents who did enjoy the occasional game of chess were Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge, and Dwight Eisenhower.

And will Barack Obama, who has played the game for years, square off against a fellow chess player in the Election of 2012?

The answer to that question might be discovered in an upcoming debate - perhaps in one of the light-hearted lightning rounds (or 'this or that' sidebars) - in which an attempt to humanize the debate participants often results in awkwardness and a critical drubbing of the moderator.

So, "Chess or checkers, Governor Perry?"

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Ron Paul's Hotbeds of Financial Support: New Hampshire, Nevada, Wyoming, and Alaska
Next post: Romney's Strongest 2012 Fundraising Locales Identical to 2008: UT, CT, DC, MA, ID

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting