St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Game on: Battle of the Perfect 10s

Former Gov. Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to be his running mate creates a general election contest in which both sides have history of their sides.

One can argue till the cows come home (did I write that?) about the effect on the election of the tickets' contrasting views on the economy, the Affordable Care Act, Ryan's controversial budget proposal, Bain Capital, same-sex marriage, the importance of government assistance to small business success, or even the traded cheap shots over transporting a dog on the car roof vs. actually eating dog meat as a child. Like the illogical but persistent recurrence of hemline lengths' and Super Bowl winners' accuracy in predicting stock market behavior, presidential elections over the past half century have turned more on the number of letters in the names of the respective tickets' nominees. (I wrote about this phenomenon four years ago after then-Sen. Obama picked then-Sen. Biden as his running mate.)

Since 1968, a presidential ticket whose surnames added up to exactly ten letters has won eight times out of nine:
1968 and 1972: Nixon Agnew
1980 and 1984: Reagan Bush
1988: Bush Quayle
2000 and 2004: Bush Cheney
2008: Obama Biden
Now, for the first time during this period, two ten-letter tickets go head-to-head! As I also wrote back in 2008, then Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (six letters) could have called Obama's ploy by matching him with a four-letter pick of his own (such as retiring MO Sen. Kit Bond, then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), or then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice). But McCain picked then -Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), who was, among other things, one letter too long.

Romney didn't repeat McCain's mistake (in spite of successive gaffes during the veep announcement ceremony). The cool, calculating Romney picked a four-letter veep to set up the showdown.

Barring an unlikely third-party surprise, we are now assured that a ten-letter ticket will be victorious again for the ninth time since 1968. But which side does history favor in this head-to-head clash? The only historical signal is ambiguous. The election in which a 10-letter ticket lost was in 1992 (Bush Quayle). On one hand, that contest's 10-letter losers were Republicans. On the other hand, they were also the sitting incumbents, presiding over a bad economy.


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