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Something Unusual Will Happen in 2008

Assuming Cheney does not want to run for president, which I think is a given, something will happen in 2008 that has not happened in 56 years since 1952: Neither of the two major-party presidential candidates will be incumbents of the President or Vice-President jobs. In 1952 we had Eisenhower vs. Stevenson. Since then we have always had incumbents running, though not necessarily successfully -
1956: Eisenhower
1960: Nixon
1964: Johnson
1968: Humphrey
1972: Nixon
1976: Ford
1980: Carter
1984: Mondale and Reagan
1988: Bush
1992: Bush
1996: Clinton
2000: Gore
2004: Bush v 1.1

I guess the only exception you could make to this is if you called Hillary an incumbent. Full list of presidents and VP's here


I didn't just bury the conclusion, but left it out entirely. The point is that 2008 is likely to be a zoo. Not one but two wide open nominating battles, plus of course the general election. Can we please, please before then try to figure out a way to choose our candidates other than just letting Iowa do it?


Welcome Instapundit (guess I need to send a check to my host for more bandwidth). While you are here, you might check out my latest roundup on Kyoto and Global Warming, as well as an interesting analysis on the economic and political success of ex-French vs. ex-Anglo/American colonies. Short answer is that you didn't want the French as masters.


Check out the comments section, which has several good posts handicapping the Republican candidates in 2008. Several people suggest a Republican strategy to replace Cheney mid-term with their next candidate. I know that the leadership of both political parties lament their loss of control, due to the primary system, in selecting their nominee, and this certainly would be an intriguing way of getting around that and the Iowa/NH problem. However, the move is so transparently Machiavellian, and I think unprecedented, that the first party to try it will probably get punished in the court of public opinion.

Posted on November 3, 2004 at 08:58 AM | Permalink


Hello Coyote:
Not so fast. Certainly Rove is/should be running scenarios where Rudy replaces Cheney (preferably before the 2006 midterms) and then runs as the incumbent VP (with Jeb or Condoleeza - against (the DEM scenario): Hillary and Barak.
Rampangelo Bee

Posted by: Rampangelo Bee | Nov 3, 2004 11:16:51 AM

I actually think that Iowa did a pretty good job, seeing as how the race turned out.

Posted by: Bob | Nov 3, 2004 11:21:15 AM

i defy anyone to show me how evan bayh cannot win with a landslide in 2008...i only hope the democrats continue to be blind to the fact that america is a conservative country for the most part

Posted by: rectus center | Nov 3, 2004 11:25:23 AM

2 small quibbles: Mondale was not an inclumbant in 1984 and 1952 was 52 years ago, not 56.

Posted by: Phil | Nov 3, 2004 11:57:56 AM

Rampangelo Bee points out a REALLY interesting scenario. I am very curious what Condi will really do - surely she won't just walk off to football!! Any guesses?

Also - I love Rudy but am not sure he would fly in our mid-west?

Posted by: Suzy | Nov 3, 2004 12:00:46 PM

More important for those who were hot and heavy for Bush to dump Cheney in favor of someone with potential in 2008 (Guilliani and Rice came up most often) is to look at the track record of VP incumbents running. Recent history (post 1900) doesn't really demonstrate a clear advantage to such a position. In fact, I would almost be inclined to say that a Bush VP running in 2008 would cary as much negative baggage with regard to anti-Bush voters as Al Gore did with regard to anti-Clinton voters.

As for me, I'm pulling for Rice '08.

Posted by: submandave | Nov 3, 2004 12:09:07 PM

If the act gets through Congress---I can see Arnold and Rudi, or Rudi and Arnold. Very powerful!

Posted by: M ichael | Nov 3, 2004 12:13:37 PM

Rectus Center:

Yeah, Mondal was not the direct incumbent, but had in the past occupied the VP office. 2008, the election we are discussin, is 56 years from 1952.

The VP switch idea is a good hypothesis. It would only require a majority of both houses, which is in hand, at least today. The 25th Ammendment, which governs the process, is discussed here: http://www.brainyencyclopedia.com/encyclopedia/t/tw/twenty_fifth_amendment_to_the_united_states_constitution.html

Posted by: coyote | Nov 3, 2004 12:16:47 PM

"Short answer is that you didn't want the French as masters."

Was that supposed to be surprising? It was true then, and it's true now.

Posted by: Deoxy | Nov 3, 2004 12:18:46 PM

Well, if they are going to make it legal for non-native born Americans to be allowed to be president - they better get on it. Surely it will take awhile to get the ammendment through. How long - any idea?

Posted by: Suzy | Nov 3, 2004 12:19:22 PM

Bob, Evan Bayh is too moderate to make it through the Dem primaries. I think he'd make a good Dem general election candidate but I don't think he'd ever get the nomination.


Posted by: tbob | Nov 3, 2004 12:47:03 PM

There was a rumour going around a month or two ago that John McCain had agreed to support Bush heart-and-soul in return for being named VP after 12-18 months of the second Bush term.

Stay tuned, sportsfans.

Posted by: Anarchus | Nov 3, 2004 12:48:53 PM

Yeah, a Dem lib will win the nom in 2008. It will take 12 years of them being out in the wilderness to nominate a moderate.

Posted by: ATM | Nov 3, 2004 12:51:16 PM

Your premise rests on one very unknowable (and I would say 'doubtful') assumption:

Dick Cheney may not in fact be the VP in 2008. Condi, McCain, Rudy - any one of them could very easily be VP by then.

Another name to consider for 2008: Gen James Jones (current NATO Commander). Very well respected on both sides of the aisle, VERY politically savvy. Makes Wes Clark look like the buffoon he is.

You heard it here first.

Posted by: Darcyman | Nov 3, 2004 12:56:01 PM

Cheney has no intention of running, and I've heard him say many times this was his last go. The President said the same thing in his victory speech today, but it's obvious that he could never go higher. One Republican I think needs watching is Lt. Gov. Michael Steele of Maryland. I was knocked out by his speech at the convention, and I have to wonder how long it will take to get this man out front. I don't know much about him at this point, and perhaps I'm getting too excited about one speech, but I believe he has a great future.

I love Rudy, too (I'm an expatriate NYer living in Florida), but he needs to move more to the right on certain issues (abortion, for example) if he wants to have a chance at a nomination.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 3, 2004 1:34:08 PM

Coyote - re your remarks about Mondale: are you sure that Gore won't try to run again in 2008? He is, like Mondale '84, not an "incumbent" VP. (Heck, you sure that Quayle won't run again? *snicker*)

Posted by: Al | Nov 3, 2004 2:01:16 PM

I lived in Indiana when Evan Bayh was governor. In that state, you have to walk a moderate line to get considered for a job like that. The heartbeat of the midwest is all about moderation. Family values are intensely important in farming states, also a reduction in estate taxes is big on their lists so that farms can stay in the families, as opposed to families being forced to sell them out when the owner dies. Also, there's a liberal side to things in that union support is large in midwestern states. Walking that thin line is an art form that many politicians have moved along for years.

Since the midwest seems to have the power when it comes to swinging an election one way or another, it might not be a bad idea for both parties to consider more moderate candidates in 2008, and Bayh would definitely be on the short list. Rudy Guliani lives on the slightly liberal side of conservative from what I have seen of his views. He would make another good choice for republican candidacy. I don't find Bayh to be well-spoken enough or personable enough to beat Guiliani in an election, though a lot can change in a man in 10 years.

For the dems, I'm betting it will come down to Bayh, or Hillary in 2008 and Guiliani or Condi Rice for the republicans. We could see our first woman president in history in four years. Either way, I think the election in 2008 has the potential to be even more historic than the one we just watched.

Posted by: Random Gemini | Nov 3, 2004 2:16:17 PM

rudy giuliani was treated for high risk prostate cancer...at least 50/50 that he will have evidence of recurrence by 2008

Posted by: rectus center | Nov 3, 2004 2:55:59 PM

Bayh can't be Hillary! (nor can anyone else), so the nomination's Hillary!'s if she wants it. He'll be Dem VP nominee.

Reps? Owens/Rice.

Owens/Rice beats Clinton/Bayh.

Posted by: Tim | Nov 3, 2004 3:12:17 PM

Why wait? I've already started www.Primary2008.com where I rank the top 40 candidates for each party....

Posted by: Frank Myers | Nov 3, 2004 3:17:25 PM

There is a big difference between the current situation and 1952. Barring some VP substitution scenario, we know going in that no sitting president or veep is running for re-election.

This was not the case in 1952. Truman never announced his intentions one way or another, but it was not until his surprise loss to Sen. Estes Kefauver in the New Hampshire primary that he decided to bow out. He didn't officially announce this until March 29, 1952. As a result, Alben W. Barkley was not in a good position to push for his own candidacy in the time between then and the convention. He also lacked Truman's support, as the latter backed Amb. Averell Harriman. Southerners favored Sen. Richard Russell of Georgia and the party establishment favored Gov. Adlai Stevenson. At the convention, the first ballot went Kefauver, Stevenson, Russell and Harriman, with Barkley and others bringing up the rear. Stevenson took it after the third ballot.

Though he lost New Hampshire, Eugene McCarthy's challenge to LBJ in 1968 had the same effect. But for Sirhan Sirhan, RFK might have beaten Humphrey and McCarthy in the primary battles, leading to a repeat of the 1952 convention.

The last election where we knew before the campaign really began that no incumbent would be running was 1928. Calvin Coolidge had announced he would not seek re-election in 1927, and also made clear he would not support Vice President Charles G. Dawes' candidacy. Dawes in turn bowed out and supported Gov. Frank Lowden of Illinois.

So as the campaign started, the field was open. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, Senate Majority Leader Charles Curtis (R-KS), Gov. Lowden, Sen. James Watson (R-IN), Sen. George Norris (R-OH) and Sen. Guy Goff (R-WV) were in the race. At the convention, Hoover won the nomination on the first ballot with 77% of the vote. Lowden was far behind with 6.8%, and Curtis, Hoover's eventual running mate, garnered 5.9%.

Posted by: Dave | Nov 3, 2004 3:44:51 PM

The 2008 election indeed promises to be a zoo, though these things often don't turn out the way they are anticipated to. The 2000 Republican race was supposed to be a free-for-all too and it quickly evaporated when McCain was vaporized in South Carolina.

I think both parties will swing back to their bases in 2008, which means the Rudy scenario is a no-go in the GOP. Rudy is too suspect on abortion, gay rights, etc., to be acceptable to the right wing. which will wield absolute power after their kingmaking role this year. Giuliani's also prone to Bob Dole disease--an irresistable compulsion to utter the uncomfortable truth at the most inopportune time. Ideologues don't like uncomfortable truths. It's a sign of Satan.

But the bigger story is that the Republicans may be in the position of having just about everybody who is anybody in the party either un-nominatable (because they are not ideologically pure enough) or unelectable (because they are too ideologically pure). Condi Rice is an interesting choice but there is no real indication that she wants the job (though she must be intrigued at the possibilities) and her reputation will rise or fall with the success of the war in Iraq with which she is inextricably linked. If she decides she wants it--and has a successful Middle East policy behind her--she may be an unstoppable force.

Jeb Bush is a non-starter because succeeding his brother would be too dynastic, even for Republicans. McCain may be the fall-back but he'll be 72 (of course, Dole was 73 when he ran in 96, but look what happened to him) and remains suspect and much too broad-minded for party base tastes.

Bill Frist? His rather ham-handed leadership of the Senate to this point is a strike against him, but he could emerge.

Forget about Arnold. Not only is he way too liberal but he'll never get the Constitutional Amendment he needs to overturn the foreign-born exclusion--why would any rival in the GOP, nevermind any Democrat--give him the chance to run?

George Pataki is hamstrung by at least two factors: too liberal and about as exciting as watching Laura Bush read a library book.

There's also Tom Ridge but he's seen as a lightweight with no real power base by insiders and as that doofus who announces color-code changes by the public at large. He would need a major makeover to install serious gravitas (calling Dr. Rove).

If I had to guess I would think the eventual nominee will be a governor who is at present an unknown.

One scenario I don't see is Cheny being replaced, unless his ticker gives out. Bush is too loyal. If Cheney should keel over, it will put Bush in a very uncomfortable position: in effect picking his successor, since the veep automatically becomes the 2008 front-runner. That is sure to piss off everyone not picked but interested in the job. And that in turn will make governing as a lame duck even harder. Of course, he could punt and name someone like Rumsfeld or Powell as a place-holder.

As for the Dems, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards start off as the co-front-runners, and my money's on Hillary. She's a goddess to the party base and has been busy burnishing her moderate credentials (pro-war, etc.). She comes with a lot of baggage in that she will electrify the GOP base against her but that may be a plus to pissed-off Dems. I think Edwards's star is as high now as it will ever get. I think he will more blame for this loss than the running mate usually gets because he...well, basically, he contributed squat to the campaign other than a passable performance against Dr. Evil in the VP debate. The fact that the ticket got skunked in the entire South and border states means he delivered nothing Kerry couldn't have won without him.

Yeah, Evan Bayh is a possibility but do you really see him besting Hillary in the early primaries, when the base is at its most powerful? Neither do I.

Howard Dean is an interesting wild card. Four years removed from the scream, seasoned and chastened, he could be a real factor if Iraq proves his original contention about the war right.

Another possibility--though I seriously doubt he'll do much more than make a fool of himself--is Gore.

One thing IS pretty certain. Barack Obama will be everybody's choice for running mate, provided he doesn't do anything stupid between now and then.

Posted by: MikeB | Nov 3, 2004 6:21:46 PM

There is a glaringly obvious candidate for the Republicans in 2008, but it's not Condi, Rudy, or Arnold. I'm in shock that this is a political board and the clear front runner has been given such minimal mention. I would bet a ton of money on Jeb Bush winning the Republican nomination 2008. Consider the following:

1. Qualifications. He's qualified and will have completed two full terms as governor of the country's fourth largest state. As a side note, he will be term limited in 2006. That gives him two full years to focus solely on running for president.

2. Stance on Issues. He's almost perfectly placed on the issues and his record. He's a solid conservative that appeals to the base, but not so far out in right field that he is seen as extreme to the more moderate Republicans. He will be a great unifier of the party.

3. Charisma. He's good looking, very charismatic and a good speaker. He's actually a much better speaker and debater than the current president.

4. Name Recognition. Only those in comas do not know the "Bush" name in American politics. It won't take long for "Jeb" to be well known as well.

5. Endorsements. As president, George W. Bush has HUGE influence over the Republican party. I guarantee you that the so-called "Republican establishment" will overwelmingly endorse Jeb Bush at a very early stage of the primary campaign.

6. Media Attention. See #4 (name recognition) and #5 (endorsements).

7. Fund Raising. Again, see #4 (name recognition), #5 (endorsements), and #6 (media attention). However, there's one more. He will get President Bush's record setting donor list. I guarantee Jeb Bush will be second to none in money available to him in the campaign.

8. Electability. Jeb Bush will be seen as a very strong candidate for those Republicans who are primarily concerned about winning the next election. I think this will be a bigger than usual concern when you consider Hillary Clinton will be seen as the likely opponent. Why is Jeb Bush so electable? Again, look at #1 through #7 above. However, there are additional reasons. What do Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and G.W. Bush have in common prior to being president? They were all governors. That will be 28 of 32 years as president by former governors -- not former senators, mayors, or national security advisors. The only other governor I see being mentioned is Arnold and he's not eligible unless they ammend the Consitution. Additionally, the other reason that Jeb Bush would be great from an electability standpoint is the state of Florida. It's the largest swing state in the nation. Jeb carried the state in his re-election for governor by 14 points. Putting Florida in the win column from the start allows the Republican ticket to focus its resources on other crucial swing states.

As for the vice presidential candidate, I see several candidates:

Condi Rice - Like most governors running for president, Jeb Bush's one weakness will be a lack of foreign affairs experience. Condi Rice would be a great compliment for that. From an electability standpoint, Rice also has the advantage of being an African American women. Both are voting blocks that tend to side with the Democrats. Being a woman could be particularly important in 2008 since she would be the counter to Hillary Clinton who will inevitably argue the "historic" impact of her being elected. The biggest negative is Rice's lack of non-foreign policy experience. Would she be seen as having the experience and the "gravitas" to be president or is she seen just as a foreign policy wonk?

Tom Ridge - I think he's under-rated in many of these lists. He has a ton of advantages. He's highly qualified being a former congressman, governor of the fifth largest state, and director of Homeland Security. I think the last is the most important. With the threat of terrorism, Ridge goes a long ways to reassure people that the country will remain safe if the Republican ticket is elected. Ridge also has extensive experience responding to tough questions from reporters. Another very big advantage to Ridge is Pennsylvania. It's the fifth largest state and a big swing state that narrowly went for Gore and Kerry. Once again, think of a Jeb Bush/Tom Ridge ticket. You would have candidates from Florida and Pennsylvania on the ticket. Win those two states and it's a near death blow to the Democrats. The big negative is that he has some pro-choice votes while in the Congress years ago. That will upset some in the base. However, a long time has passed, and he could probably "evolve" his position on the issue if he wanted.

John McCain - Polls consistently show that he's extremely popular with Independents and moderate Democrats. He's a great campaigner. However, there's some negatives. Arizona isn't the swing state it once was. The Republicans will likely win Arizona without McCain. Another disadvantage is age. Will he be seen as too old in 2008? Of course, some could argue age as a plus given a fairly youthful candidate leading the ticket. The other disadvantage is that McCain might run for president in 2008. If so, there could be heated words between him and Jeb. I know it doesn't eliminate him (Reagan/Bush, Kerry/Edwards, etc.), but if the primary race gets nasty, it could be a negative for McCain.

Arnold Schwartzeneggar - He's obviously a big celebrity and would be great on the campaign trail. If he could pull California to the Republicans, that would be a death blow to the Democrats. However, I don't think he would be enough to sway liberal California. Realistically, what they would be hoping for is to make the state competitive. If so, that would mean the Democrats would have to waste alot of time and money defending a state that had been given to them for free in the past. There's some negatives. Bush may want to opt for an older candidate with a longer resume in politics. Arnold, being a governor like Jeb, also lacks significant foreign policy experience. The final drawback is that Arnold may be too moderate on social issues. His stance on social issues would upset some of the base.

Rudy Giuliani - I'm listing him since he has been mentioned so much. I don't think he'll be the pick though. The advantage is that he's a great speaker. He may do well with swing voters. The problem is that he's liberal on social issues. Being pro-abortion will upset the base. He also lacks experience in Washington to balance the ticket. Being a "mayor" could be seen as an inferior qualification to senator, governor, cabinet secretary, etc. Additionally, I think New York is a state that is a lost cause for the Republicans. It's heavily in the Democrat column, particularly with "New Yorker" Hillary Clinton leading the Democrat ticket. I just don't see him as the vice president pick.

Posted by: Duke | Nov 3, 2004 10:13:04 PM

Evan Bayh 2008: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evanbayhin2008/

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 15, 2004 4:13:28 PM


Posted by: TOM | Apr 13, 2005 12:07:43 PM

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