Skip to main content
ABC News
It’s rare to tap the #2

Think fast. When was the last time a Presidential nominee from one of the major parties tapped the runner up from that year’s primaries to be his Vice Presidential nominee? Reagan-Bush in 1980? Kennedy-Johnson in 1960?

Nope. You have to go all the way back to … 2004, when John Kerry made John Edwards his VP nominee. But such things are relatively unusual. Since 1948, there have been 30 tickets nominated by the two major parties, and in only four cases had the nominee sought the Presidential nomination that year: Reagan/Bush, Kennedy/Johnson, Kerry/Edwards, and (here’s the Trivial Pursuit answer) Stevenson/Kefauver in 1956. Two of those tickets won and the other two lost, so there’s nothing to suggest that nominating the runner-up is a bad idea. But it doesn’t happen very often.

In fact, it’s somewhat uncommon to select a VP who had ever before sought his party’s nomination. On only four occasions was the VP candidate someone who hadn’t sought the Presidency that year, but who had sought it in a previous cycle. These tickets were Dole/Kemp (1996), Clinton/Gore (1992), Dukakis/Bentsen (1988), and Johnson/Humphrey (1964).

A complete breakdown of these different types of tickets is below.

Sitting Vice Presidents (7 tickets, 5-2)
Bush/Cheney (2004, won)
Clinton/Gore (1996, won)
Bush/Quayle (1992, lost)
Reagan/Bush (1984, won)
Carter/Mondale (1980, lost)
Nixon/Agnew (1972, won)
Eisenhower/Nixon (1956, won)

VP sought nomination that year (4 tickets, 2-2)
Kerry/Edwards (2004, lost)
Reagan/Bush (1980, won)
Kennedy/Johnson (1960, won)
Stevenson/Kefauver (1956, lost)

VP sought nomination in previous cycle (4 tickets, 2-2)
Dole/Kemp (1996, lost)
Clinton/Gore (1992, won)
Dukakis/Bentsen (1988, lost)
Johnson/Humphrey (1964, won)

VP never before ran for President (14 tickets, 6-9)
Bush/Cheney (2000, win)
Gore/Liberman (2000, lost)
Bush/Quayle (1988, won)
Mondale/Ferraro (1984, lost)
Carter/Mondale (1976, won)
Ford/Dole (1976, lost)
McGovern/Shriver (1972, lost)
Nixon/Agenw (1968, won)
Humphrey/Muskie (1968, lost)
Goldwater/Miller (1964, lost)
Nixon/Lodge (1960, lost)
Eisenhower/Nixon (1952, won)
Stevenson/Sparkman (1952, lost)
Truman/Barkley (1948, won)
Dewey/Warren (1948, lost)

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.