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Pawlenty VP Pick Would Run Counter to 60-Year Trend in Republican Politics

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Only one fellow presidential candidate has won the GOP VP nomination out of the last 15 cycles dating back to 1952

timpawlenty10.jpgFor the last several weeks, the same names are still being floated as possible vice-presidential picks for Mitt Romney - such as Rob Portman, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, Tim Pawlenty etc.

The expanded list of VP possibilities still finds only one name - Pawlenty - that was a rival candidate of Romney's for the 2012 presidential nod.

And while Pawlenty was quick to endorse Romney after he dropped out of the race following a disappointing third place finish in the Iowa Straw Poll last year, history suggests the odds are stacked against the former Minnesota governor from securing the VP nod.

A Smart Politics analysis finds that a Republican vice-presidential nominee has been picked from the pool of that cycle's presidential contenders just one time over the last 60 years dating back to the early 1950s.

For nine cycles since the Election of 1952 the GOP vice-presidential nominee was not a presidential candidate in that election year: 1952 (Richard Nixon), 1960 (Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.), 1964 (William Miller), 1968 (Spiro Agnew), 1976 (Bob Dole), 1988 (Dan Quayle), 1996 (Jack Kemp), 2000 (Dick Cheney), and 2008 (Sarah Palin).

In five other cycles, the vice-presidential nominee was the sitting vice-president: 1956 (Nixon), 1972 (Agnew), 1984 (George H.W. Bush), 1992 (Quayle), and 2004 (Cheney).

That means the only time a Republican vice-presidential nominee has been picked from the pool of presidential contenders over the last 15 cycles was in 1980, when Ronald Reagan chose George H.W. Bush.

Bush was Reagan's chief rival during the 1980 GOP primaries - narrowly winning the Iowa caucuses and then five other states.

By contrast, Democratic presidential nominees have been partnered with ex-presidential hopefuls from that election cycle four times during this 60-year span - in 1956 (Estes Kefauver), 1960 (Lyndon Johnson), 2004 (John Edwards), and 2008 (Joe Biden).

Prior to 1952, it was much more common for the vice-presidential nominee to be a fellow presidential candidate, sometimes as part of a backroom deal at the convention.

From 1900 through 1948, the Republican VP nominee was a presidential candidate in seven cycles (even if just winning one primary or placed into nomination as a 'favorite son' candidate): in 1916 (Charles Fairbanks), 1920 (Calvin Coolidge), 1928 (Charles Curtis), 1936 (Frank Knox), 1940 (Charles McNary), 1944 (John Bricker), and 1948 (Earl Warren).

Vice-presidential nominees were picked outside of the presidential pool for the GOP in five cycles (1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1924) with an incumbent VP receiving the nomination once (1932, Charles Curtis).

Pawlenty's early exit from the race last year does work in his favor insofar as he participated onstage in debates with Romney only a handful of times - thus giving him fewer opportunities to criticize the former Massachusetts governor in ways that would look suspect if later chosen as his running-mate.

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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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