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.
Which Generation Has the Most Influence Over U.S. Politics?
Visual Capitalist’s inaugural Generational Power Index (GPI) examines the political power held by each generation and their influence on society.
Measuring Influence in U.S. Politics, by Generation
Generations are a widely recognized and discussed concept, and it’s assumed people all understand what they refer to. But the true extent of each generation’s clout has remained undetermined—until now.
In our inaugural Generational Power Index (GPI) 2021, we examine the power and influence each generation currently holds on American society, and its potential to evolve in the future.
Political power by generation was one of three key categories we used to quantify the current landscape. Before we dive into the results, here’s how the Political Power category was calculated.
Measuring Generational Power
To begin with, here’s how we categorized each generation:
|Generation||Age range (years)||Birth year range|
|The Silent Generation||76 and over||1928-1945|
|Gen Alpha||8 and below||2013-present|
Using these age groups as a framework, we then calculated the Political Power category using these distinct equally-weighted variables:
With this methodology in mind, here’s how the Political Power category shakes out, using insights from the GPI.
Share of Political Power by Generation
Baby Boomers dominated with over 47% of the total political power by generation. This cohort has particular strength in the judicial system and in Congress.
|Generation||Political Power Share|
Baby Boomers, along with the Silent Generation also control 80% of political spending. Meanwhile, Gen X accounts for nearly half (46%) of local government positions.
Both voters and politicians play key roles in shaping American society. Thus, two variables worth looking closer at are the evolving electoral base and the composition of Congress.
The Changing Face of the U.S. Voter
Younger generations have very different perceptions on everything from cannabis to climate change. This is starting to be reflected in legislation.
2016 was a watershed moment for politicians vying for the vote—it was the last election in which Baby Boomers made up over a third of U.S. voters. Collectively, Boomers’ voting power will decline from here on out.
Within the next two decades, the combined voting power of Millennials and Gen Z will skyrocket from 32% in 2020 up to 55% by 2036.
Meanwhile, a decade from now, the oldest members of Gen Alpha (those born in 2013 and later) will enter the playing field and become eligible to vote in 2031.
The View from the Top
Having examined generational power in the electorate, we now turn our attention to the people on the other side of the democratic equation—the politicians.
In most cases, it takes many decades of experience and reputation building to reach the highest offices in the land. That’s why the median age of Congress (61.2) is much higher than the median age of the U.S. population at large (38.1).
At this point in time, Baby Boomers are in the sweet spot, and it shows in the numbers. Boomers represent 298 of 532 Congressional seats (56% of all seats), and Gen X’s growing contingent of members represents 31%.
On one end of the spectrum, the Silent Generation still occupies 7% of seats, which roughly reflects the group’s share of the U.S. population. California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Don Young are both 87 years old, the latter having represented Alaska for 25 terms.
On the other end of the spectrum, Millennials currently claim 32 seats, just 6% of the total. As of 2021, this entire cohort now meets the minimum age requirement (25) to serve in the House of Representatives. The youngest member of Congress is Republican Madison Cawthorn, a representative for North Carolina at just 25 years old. Meanwhile, Senator Jon Ossoff is the youngest Senator in the country, serving Georgia at 36 years old.
This difference in political power by generation is stark considering that both Boomers and Millennials both make up similar proportions of the U.S. population at large. In that sense, Millennials are greatly underrepresented in Congress compared to Boomers.
Gen Z Waiting Patiently in the Wings
Gen Z’s current age range is a natural reason why they don’t yet have a foothold in government. But by 2022, the oldest members of Gen Z will turn 25, meeting the minimum age requirement to get elected into the House of Representatives.
With the oldest members of this generation soon turning 25, how long will it be before a representative from Gen Z occupies a seat in the Capitol Building?
Download the Generational Power Report (.pdf)
Visualizing Biden’s $1.52 Trillion Budget Proposal for 2022
A breakdown of President Biden’s budget proposal for 2022. Climate change initiatives, cybersecurity, and additional social programs are key areas of focus.
Visualizing Biden’s Budget Proposal for 2022
On April 9th, President Joe Biden released his first budget proposal plan for the 2022 fiscal year.
The $1.52 trillion discretionary budget proposes boosts in funding that would help combat climate change, support disease control, and subsidize social programs.
This graphic outlines some key takeaways from Biden’s budget proposal plan and highlights how funds could be allocated in the next fiscal year.
U.S. Federal Budget 101
Before diving into the proposal’s key takeaways, it’s worth taking a step back to cover the basics around the U.S. federal budget process, for those who aren’t familiar.
Each year, the president of the U.S. is required to present a federal budget proposal to Congress. It’s usually submitted each February, but this year’s proposal has been delayed due to alleged issues with the previous administration during the handover of office.
Biden’s publicized budget only includes discretionary spending for now—a full budget that includes mandatory spending is expected to be released in the next few months.
Key Takeaways From Biden’s Budget Proposal
Overall, Biden’s proposed budget would increase funds for a majority of cabinet departments. This is a drastic pivot from last year’s proposal, which was focused on budget cuts.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest departmental changes, and their proposed spending for 2022:
|Department||2022 Proposed Spending (Billions)||% Change from 2021|
|Health and Human Services||$131.7||24%|
|Environmental Protection Agency||$11.2||21%|
|Housing and Urban Development||$68.7||15%|
|State and International Aid||$63.5||12%|
|Small Business Administration||$0.9||9%|
One of the biggest boosts in spending is for education. The proposed $29.8 billion would be a 41% increase from 2021. The extra funds would support students in high-poverty schools, as well as children with disabilities.
Health and human services is also a top priority in Biden’s budget, perhaps unsurprisingly given the global pandemic. But the boost in funds extends beyond disease control. Biden’s budget allocates $1.6 billion towards mental health grants and $10.7 billion to help stop the opioid crisis.
There are increases across all major budget categories, but defense will see the smallest increase from 2021 spending, at 2%. It’s worth noting that defense is also the biggest budget category by far, and with a total of $715 billion allocated, the budget lists deterring threats from China and Russia as a major goal.
Which Bills Will Make it Through?
It’s important to reiterate that this plan is just a proposal. Each bill needs to get passed through Congress before it becomes official.
Considering the slim majority held by Democrats, it’s unlikely that Biden’s budget will make it through Congress without any changes. Over the next few months, it’ll be interesting to see what makes it through the wringer.
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