Every Presidential Candidate’s Running Mate Since WWII
Since the U.S. Constitution was first instituted, there have been 48 vice presidents. They’ve supported presidents in seeing the country through wars, economic expansions and contractions, a global pandemic—and much more.
A president’s success depends on the strength of their team, so it’s only natural that as second-in-command, the pick for a VP carries significant weight. In some cases, they can even make or break the race to secure a spot in the White House.
In this graphic, we take a look at the hand-picked running mates of presidential hopefuls since 1940, including the upcoming November 2020 elections.
Running More Than Once
The graphic highlights 33 running mates, out of which nine have ran for VP more than once. Here’s how their number of terms compare, and who continued on to become an eventual presidential candidate:
|Running Mate||Party||VP terms served||Presidential candidate?|
|Mike Pence||🔴 R||Won 1 term|
Currently running for second term
|Joe Biden||🔵 D||Won both terms||Currently running for president|
|Dick Cheney||🔴 R||Won both terms||No|
|Al Gore||🔵 D||Won both terms||Yes, but did not win first term|
|Dan Quayle||🔴 R||Won 1 out of 2 terms||No|
|George H. W. Bush||🔴 R||Won both terms||Yes, won one term|
|Spiro Agnew||🔴 R||Won both terms||Resigned during VP second term|
|Richard Nixon||🔴 R||Won both terms||Yes, won both terms|
|Walter Mondale||🔵 D||Won 1 out of 2 terms||Yes, but did not win first term|
Of the running mates since WWII, Republicans Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush are the only two to have served as president after being vice presidents for two previous terms—unless Joe Biden wins in November 2020.
What career paths did aspiring VPs take before running on the big ticket?
Interestingly, 2 of 3 running mates profiled in today’s graphic had a prior background as a lawyer before choosing to enter politics.
A curious exception to the typical career path is that of former professional football player Jack Kemp, who was chosen as the running mate for Bob Dole’s unsuccessful presidential bid in 1996.
At the President’s Right Hand
The vice president is the first in line of succession for the Oval Office, in the event that the sitting president dies, resigns, or is removed from office. Throughout history, nine VPs have ascended to presidency this way, of which three occurred since 1940.
- After Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death in 1945, Harry S. Truman ascended to the presidency.
- Lyndon B. Johnson became the President upon John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
- Following evidence of political corruption, Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973. He was replaced by Gerald Ford, who then became President after Nixon’s post-Watergate resignation in 1974.
Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump are three Presidents who have been through the impeachment process, but were later acquitted by the Senate. Otherwise, the list of VPs ending up as the commander-in-chief might look much more different.
The Youngest and Oldest Running Mates
Based on the first time they ran on the ticket, the average running mate is 54 years old. In contrast, the average presidential candidate is 58 years old.
Comparing the age difference between presidential candidates and their running mates paints a unique picture. The biggest age gaps both occurred in 2008:
There was a 28-year difference between older candidate John McCain (72) and younger VP pick Sarah Palin (44) on the Republican ticket. On the Democratic side, younger candidate Barack Obama (47) and older VP pick Joe Biden (66) saw a 19-year gap.
Harry S. Truman’s historic win in 1948 was considered a surprising political longshot. His running mate, Alben W. Barkley was the oldest running mate ever picked, 71 years at the time.
Meanwhile, Richard Nixon was one of the youngest running mates to be chosen, 39 years in 1956—second only to John C. Breckinridge (36 years old in 1856). Finally, at age 92 years in 2020, Walter Mondale is the oldest living former VP.
Cracking the Glass Ceiling
Last but not least, there have only been three women selected as VP running mates to date.
- Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman VP nominee for the Democratic Party in 1984.
- Although she had only two years of political experience as governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin was the first female Republican VP nominee in 2008.
- Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor with almost four years of experience as a Senator, is the first woman of color to be nominated on any major party’s ticket in 2020.
Palin herself shared a few words of wisdom for Harris across the aisle:
Congrats to the democrat VP pick 🇺🇸 Climb upon Geraldine Ferraro’s and my shoulders, and from the most amazing view in your life consider lessons we learned…
—Sarah Palin (via Instagram)
Could Harris become the first ever right-hand woman? We’ll find out in a few months.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point since Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
How Much Do Americans Trust the Media?
Media trust among Americans has reached its lowest point in six years.
Gallup began its survey on media trust in 1972, repeating it in 1974 and 1976. After a long period, the public opinion firm restarted the polls in 1997 and has asked Americans about their confidence level in the mass media—newspapers, TV, and radio—almost every year since then.
The above graphic illustrates Gallup’s latest poll results, conducted in September 2023.
Americans’ Trust in Mass Media, 1972-2023
Americans’ confidence in the mass media has sharply declined over the last few decades.
|Trust in the mass media||% Great deal/Fair amount||% Not very much||% None at all|
In 2016, the number of respondents trusting media outlets fell below the tally of those who didn’t trust the media at all. This is the first time that has happened in the poll’s history.
That year was marked by sharp criticism of the media from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In 2017, the use of the term ‘fake news’ rose by 365% on social media, and the term was named the word of the year by dictionary publisher Collins.
The Lack of Faith in Institutions and Social Media
Although there’s no single reason to explain the decline of trust in the traditional media, some studies point to potential drivers.
According to Michael Schudson, a sociologist and historian of the news media and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, in the 1970s, faith in institutions like the White House or Congress began to decline, consequently impacting confidence in the media.
“That may have been a necessary corrective to a sense of complacency that had been creeping in—among the public and the news media—that allowed perhaps too much trust: we accepted President Eisenhower’s lies about the U-2 spy plane, President Kennedy’s lies about the ‘missile gap,’ President Johnson’s lies about the war in Vietnam, President Nixon’s lies about Watergate,”
Michael Schudson – Columbia Journalism School
More recently, the internet and social media have significantly changed how people consume media. The rise of platforms such as X/Twitter and Facebook have also disrupted the traditional media status quo.
Partisans’ Trust in Mass Media
Historically, Democrats have expressed more confidence in the media than Republicans.
Democrats’ trust, however, has fallen 12 points over the past year to 58%, compared with 11% among Republicans and 29% among independents.
According to Gallup, Republicans’ low confidence in the media has little room to worsen, but Democrat confidence could still deteriorate and bring the overall national reading down further.
The poll also shows that young Democrats have less confidence in the media than older Democrats, while Republicans are less varied in their views by age group.
War6 days ago
Ranked: Share of Global Arms Exports in 2022
Maps2 weeks ago
Interactive Map: The World as 1,000 People
Brands1 week ago
Ranked: Average Black Friday Discounts for Major Retailers
Brands1 week ago
Ranked: Fast Food Brands with the Most U.S. Locations
Markets1 week ago
Visualizing 30 Years of Imports from U.S. Trading Partners
Markets1 week ago
Ranked: The Biggest Retailers in the U.S. by Revenue
Globalization1 week ago
The Top 50 Largest Importers in the World
Maps1 week ago
Mapped: Which Countries Recognize Israel or Palestine, or Both?