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Generation Gap: Romney-Ryan Ticket 7th Largest Age Difference in History

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At 23 years, the 2012 Republican presidential ticket is tied for the seventh largest age differential in U.S. history out of the nearly 125 pairings who have received Electoral College votes

paulryan11.jpgMitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate Saturday was noteworthy not only for his picking a member of the U.S. House but also the relative youth of the Wisconsin U.S. Representative.

Ryan, at 42, is 27 years younger than his Democratic counterpart - Joe Biden at 69 years old.

That 27-year gap is the second largest among vice-presidential nominees in U.S. history, behind only the 28-year difference between 1904 nominees Democrat Henry Davis (80) and Republican Charles Fairbanks (52).

Over the last generation, the GOP has now picked three vice-presidential nominees that are among the youngest in history with Dan Quayle, Ryan, and Sarah Palin.

But will the age difference between Romney and Ryan be as starkly evident as it was in 2008 when the 44-year old Palin was paired with 72-year old John McCain?

And how does the Romney-Ryan differential rank among presidential tickets in U.S. history?

A Smart Politics analysis of presidential running mates and tickets over the past 200+ years finds that the 23-year difference in age between Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan is tied for the seventh largest in history among the 124 pairs of candidates on presidential ballots who received Electoral College votes.

The largest gap in age between two candidates on the same ticket occurred in 1856, when Democrat James Buchanan ran with former Kentucky U.S. Representative John Breckinridge.

Buchanan was 65 years old on Election Day while Breckinridge - who became the youngest vice-president in history - was just 35, for a 30-year age difference.

Only five other tickets put forth two candidates with a large disparity in age:

· 28 years (2008): Republicans John McCain (72) and Sarah Palin (44)
· 28 years (1904): Democrats Alton Parker (52) and Henry Davis (80)
· 27 years (1924): Progressive Robert La Follette (69) and Burton Wheeler (42)
· 25 years (1900): Democrats William Jennings Bryan (40) and Adlai Stevenson, Sr. (65)
· 24 years (1896): Democrats William Jennings Bryan (36) and Arthur Sewall (60)

Overall, the average age gap on presidential tickets across history has been just 10.0 years.

Only four pairs of candidates receiving Electoral College votes have been the same age:

· 1824: Democratic-Republicans Henry Clay and Nathan Sanford (47)
· 1860: Republicans Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin (51)
· 1864: Republican Abraham Lincoln and Democrat Andrew Johnson (55)
· 1952: Democrats Adlai Stevenson and John Sparkman (52)

In addition to Romney and Ryan, presidential tickets were constituted of candidates with an age gap of 23 years during five other cycles:

· 1888: Democrats Grover Cleveland (51) and Allen Thurman (74)
· 1952: Dwight Eisenhower (62) and Richard Nixon (39)
· 1956: Dwight Eisenhower (66) and Richard Nixon (43)
· 1988: George H.W. Bush (64) and Dan Quayle (41)
· 1992: George H.W. Bush (68) and Dan Quayle (45)

At 65 years old, Romney is tied with John Adams (1800), Andrew Jackson (1832), and James Buchanan (1856) for the 12th oldest presidential nominee in U.S. history.

Three candidates eclipsed 70 years old on Election Day: Republicans Ronald Reagan (73 years, 1984), Bob Dole (73, 1996), and John McCain (72, 2008).

The only other presidential nominees older than Romney have been Henry Clay (1844), Robert La Follette (1924), and Ronald Reagan (1980) at 69 years old, George H.W. Bush at 68 (1992), William Harrison at 67 (1840), and Lewis Cass (1848), Winfield Scott (1852), and Dwight Eisenhower (1956) at 66.

Meanwhile, Ryan - at age 42 - is tied for the seventh youngest VP pick in U.S. history out of the nearly 125 tickets that received Electoral College votes over the last 220+ years.

The only major vice-presidential candidates who were younger than Ryan were Democrats John Breckinridge (age 35, 1856), Franklin Roosevelt (38, 1920), and George Pendleton (39, 1864), Republican Richard Nixon (39, 1952), Democratic-Republican Aaron Burr (40, 1796), and Republican Dan Quayle (41, 1988).

In addition to Ryan, four other vice-presidential nominees were 42 years old on Election Day: Democratic-Republicans Daniel Tompkins (1816) and John Calhoun (1824), Republican Teddy Roosevelt (1900), and Progressive Burton Wheeler (1924).

Because Romney is one of the oldest candidates and Ryan is one of the youngest, the total age of the 2012 Republican ticket ranks in the middle of pairings in U.S. history.

At 107 years, Romney-Ryan is tied for the 45th youngest ticket out of 124 pairings.

At 120 years, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the 22nd oldest ticket.

The youngest ticket in U.S. history by far is the losing 1864 Democratic pairing of George McClellan (40) and George Pendleton (39) at 79 years collectively.

The next youngest was the 1920 Democratic ticket of James Cox (50) and Franklin Roosevelt (38) at 88 years.

The oldest tickets were the Democratic ticket of 1948 of Harry Truman (64) and Alben Barkley (70) and the 1996 Republican pairing of Bob Dole (73) and Jack Kemp (61) - each coming in at 134 years collectively.

At 69 years old, Biden is tied for the 5th oldest VP nominee in history behind Democrat Henry Davis (80 years, 1904), Democrat Allen Thurman (74, 1888), Republican Charles Curtis (72, 1932), and Democrat Alben Barkley (70, 1948).

Largest Age Gap on Presidential Tickets

Rank
Year
President
Age
Vice-President
Age
Total
Gap
1
1856
James Buchanan
65
John Breckinridge
35
100
30
2
2008
John McCain
72
Sarah Palin
44
116
28
2
1904
Alton Parker
52
Henry Davis
80
132
28
4
1924
Robert La Follette
69
Burton Wheeler
42
111
27
5
1900
William J. Bryan
40
Adlai Stevenson
65
105
25
6
1896
William J. Bryan
36
Arthur Sewall
60
96
24
7
2012
Mitt Romney
65
Paul Ryan
42
107
23
7
1992
George H.W. Bush
68
Dan Quayle
45
113
23
7
1988
George H.W. Bush
64
Dan Quayle
41
105
23
7
1956
Dwight Eisenhower
66
Richard Nixon
43
109
23
7
1952
Dwight Eisenhower
62
Richard Nixon
39
101
23
7
1888
Grover Cleveland
51
Allen Thurman
74
125
23
13
1812
DeWitt Clinton
43
Jared Ingersoll
63
106
20
14
1860
John Breckenridge
39
Joseph Lane
58
97
19
14
1852
Franklin Pierce
47
William King
66
113
19
14
1836
William H. Harrison
63
Francis Granger
44
107
19
17
2012
Barack Obama
51
Joe Biden
69
120
18
17
2008
Barack Obama
47
Joe Biden
65
112
18
17
1940
Wendell Wilkie
48
Charles McNary
66
114
18
17
1884
Grover Cleveland
47
Thomas Hendricks
65
112
18
17
1852
Winfield Scott
66
William Graham
48
114
18
22
1840
William H. Harrison
67
John Tyler
50
117
17
22
1836
Hugh White
63
John Tyler
46
109
17
24
1820
James Monroe
62
Daniel Tompkins
46
108
16
24
1816
James Monroe
58
Daniel Tompkins
42
100
16
26
1900
William McKinley
57
Teddy Roosevelt
42
99
15
26
1872
Horace Greeley
61
Benjamin Brown
46
107
15
26
1848
Zachary Taylor
63
Millard Fillmore
48
111
15
26
1832
Andrew Jackson
65
Martin Van Buren
50
115
15
26
1832
William Wirt
60
Amos Ellmaker
45
105
15
26
1828
Andrew Jackson
61
John Calhoun
46
107
15
26
1824
John Q. Adams
57
John Calhoun
42
99
15
26
1824
Andrew Jackson
57
John Calhoun
42
99
15
26
1796
John Adams
61
Thomas Pinckney
46
107
15
35
1932
Herbert Hoover
58
Charles Curtis
72
130
14
35
1928
Herbert Hoover
54
Charles Curtis
68
122
14
35
1824
William Crawford
52
Nathanial Macon
66
118
14
38
1984
Ronald Reagan
73
George H.W. Bush
60
133
13
38
1980
Ronald Reagan
69
George H.W. Bush
56
125
13
38
1936
Franklin Roosevelt
54
John Garner
67
121
13
38
1936
Alf Landon
49
Frank Knox
62
111
13
38
1932
Franklin Roosevelt
50
John Garner
63
113
13
38
1828
John Q. Adams
61
Richard Rush
48
109
13
38
1800
Thomas Jefferson
57
Aaron Burr
44
101
13
38
1796
Thomas Jefferson
53
Aaron Burr
40
93
13
46
1996
Bob Dole
73
Jack Kemp
61
134
12
46
1968
George Wallace
49
Curtis LeMay
61
110
12
46
1920
James Cox
50
Franklin Roosevelt
38
88
12
46
1844
Henry Clay
69
Theodore Frelinghuysen
57
126
12
46
1808
James Madison
57
George Clinton
69
126
12
51
1960
Richard Nixon
47
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
58
105
11
51
1948
Thomas Dewey
46
Earl Warren
57
103
11
51
1868
Horatio Seymour
58
Francis Blair
47
105
11
51
1800
John Adams
65
Charles Pinckney
54
119
11
55
1976
Gerald Ford
63
Bob Dole
53
116
10
55
1916
Charles Evans Hughes
54
Charles Fairbanks
64
118
10
55
1908
William J. Bryan
48
John Kern
58
106
10
55
1872
Ulysses Grant
50
Henry Wilson
60
110
10
55
1836
Daniel Webster
54
December 1, 1792
44
98
10
60
2004
John Kerry
60
John Edwards
51
111
9
60
1960
Kennedy
43
Lyndon Johnson
52
95
9
60
1944
Thomas Dewey
42
John Bricker
51
93
9
60
1888
Benjamin Harrison
55
Levi Morton
64
119
9
60
1848
Lewis Cass
66
William Butler
57
123
9
60
1808
Charles Pinckney
62
Rufus King
53
115
9
60
1804
Charles Pinckney
58
Rufus King
49
107
9
67
1912
Teddy Roosevelt
54
Hiram Johnson
46
100
8
68
1984
Walter Mondale
56
Geraldine Ferraro
49
105
7
68
1924
Calvin Coolidge
52
Charles Dawes
59
111
7
68
1920
Warren Harding
55
Calvin Coolidge
48
103
7
68
1892
James Weaver
59
James Field
66
125
7
68
1812
James Madison
61
Elbridge Gerry
68
129
7
73
2000
Al Gore
52
Joe Liberman
58
110
6
73
1972
Richard Nixon
59
Spiro Agnew
53
112
6
73
1972
George McGovern
50
Sargent Shriver
56
106
6
73
1968
Richard Nixon
55
Spiro Agnew
49
104
6
73
1948
Harry Truman
64
Alben Barkley
70
134
6
73
1948
Strom Thurmond
47
Fielding Wright
53
100
6
73
1924
John Davis
51
Charles Bryan
57
108
6
73
1904
Teddy Roosevelt
46
Charles Fairbanks
52
98
6
73
1856
John Fremont
43
William Dayton
49
92
6
82
2004
George W. Bush
58
Dick Cheney
63
121
5
82
2000
George W. Bush
54
Dick Cheney
59
113
5
82
1964
Barry Goldwater
55
William Miller
50
105
5
82
1876
Samuel Tilden
62
Thomas Hendricks
57
119
5
86
1980
Jimmy Carter
56
Walter Mondale
52
108
4
86
1976
Jimmy Carter
52
Walter Mondale
48
100
4
86
1892
Benjamin Harrison
59
Whitelaw Reid
55
114
4
86
1884
James Blaine
54
John Logan
58
112
4
86
1804
Thomas Jefferson
61
George Clinton
65
126
4
91
1988
Michael Dukakis
64
Lloyd Bensten
67
131
3
91
1968
Hubert Humphrey
57
Edmund Muskie
54
111
3
91
1964
Lyndon Johnson
56
Hubert Humphrey
53
109
3
91
1956
Adlai Stevenson
56
Estes Kefauver
53
109
3
91
1916
Woodrow Wilson
59
Thomas Marshall
62
121
3
91
1912
Woodrow Wilson
55
Thomas Marshall
58
113
3
91
1876
Rutherford Hayes
54
William Wheeler
57
111
3
91
1844
James Polk
49
George Dallas
52
101
3
91*
1840
Martin Van Buren
57
(Richard Johnson)
60
117
3
91
1816
Rufus King
61
John Howard
64
125
3
91
1792
George Washington
61
John Adams
58
119
3
91
1789
George Washington
57
John Adams
54
111
3
103
1996
Bill Clinton
50
Al Gore
48
98
2
103
1992
Bill Clinton
46
Al Gore
44
90
2
103
1944
Franklin Roosevelt
62
Harry Truman
60
122
2
103
1940
Franklin Roosevelt
58
Henry Wallace
56
114
2
103
1928
Al Smith
54
Joseph Robinson
56
110
2
103**
1912
William Taft
55
James Sherman
57
112
2
103
1908
William Taft
51
James Sherman
53
104
2
103
1892
Grover Cleveland
55
Adlai Stevenson
57
112
2
103
1880
James Garfield
49
Chester Arthur
51
100
2
103
1880
Winfield Hancock
56
William English
58
114
2
103
1860
John Bell
64
Edward Everett
66
130
2
103
1836
Martin Van Buren
54
Richard Johnson
56
110
2
103
1832
Henry Clay
55
John Sergant
53
108
2
116
1896
William McKinley
53
Garret Hobart
52
105
1
116
1868
Ulysses Grant
46
Schuyler Colfax
45
91
1
116
1864
George McClellan
40
George Pendleton
39
79
1
116
1860
Stephen Douglas
47
Herschel Johnson
48
95
1
116
1856
Millard Fillmore
56
Andrew Donelson
57
113
1
121
1952
Adlai Stevenson
52
John Sparkman
52
104
0
121
1864
Abraham Lincoln
55
Andrew Johnson
55
110
0
121
1860
Abraham Lincoln
51
Hannibal Hamlin
51
102
0
121
1824
Henry Clay
47
Nathan Sanford
47
94
0
Note: Table includes presidential tickets that were on the ballot and received Electoral College votes. * Vice-president Richard Johnson was not renominated by the Democratic Party in 1840, but received the most vice-presidential Electoral College votes on Martin Van Buren's ticket. ** James Sherman died less than a week before the 1912 election and Nicholas Butler received the electoral votes Sherman would have received. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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