The closer election day and the more likely a positive outcome for the Democratic ticket, the more you can see and hear about Sarah Palin getting ready for a 2012 run for the nomination.
This got me wondering: has anyone ever won the nomination of their party or even the presidency after being the running mate on a losing ticket?
Follow me below the fold for what I found. Let's just say history does not bode well for Palin 2012.
What's interesting is that running for the presidency after losing the race for the vice presidency is mostly a phenomenon of the 20th century and Democrats have done so more often than Republicans.
But let's look at Sarah Palin's predecessors as their party's vice-presidential nominee first:
Bob Dole: Dole has been around a long time. So long, in fact, that he was Gerald Ford's running mate in 1976. Ford/Dole lost to Carter/Mondale that year and Dole ran for the top job in 1980. After garnering a total of 597 votes in the New Hampshire primary he dropped out. 16 years later Dole again ran for the nomination of his party, only to lose big against incumbent Bill Clinton.
Dan Quayle: Quayle of course was elected Vice President in 1988, the Bush/Quayle ticket however failed to get reelected in 1992. Quayle, whose name often pops up nowadays when Sarah Palin's qualifications are discussed, did not even bother to run for President in 1996 (for health reasons). He did however try in 2000 and said about George W. Bush: "we do not want another candidate who needs on-the-job training." He subsequently endorsed Bush after dropping out after a dismal showing in the Ames straw poll.
Jack Kemp: Remember him? He actually ran for President (1988) before he ran for Vice President with Bob Dole in 1996. After also losing that race he tried again for the 2000 nomination, failing again.
Yup, that's actually the entire list of Republican vice presidential losers trying out for the presidency. So, when you just look at that list, Sarah Palin winning the Republican nomination in 2012 would be historic and unprecedented in more than one aspect.
Now, let's take a look at the Democrats:
Richard Mentor Johnson: Who? You might say. Johnson was the 9th VP of the United States. He served under Martin van Buren and turned out to be a drag on the ticket for their reelection. After losing that election in 1840, he tried to get elected to the US Senate, win his party's nomination in 1844 and ran for Governor of Kentucky. He was unsuccessful in his efforts. He was elected to the House in 1850.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: Up to this day FDR is the only vice presidential nominee of a losing ticket of either party who managed to win the presidency. He lost with James Cox of Ohio in 1920 and, because of health reasons, did not run for political office again until 1928, being elected governor of New York. He then ran for the Presidency in 1932, 12 years after losing with Cox and won in a landslide.
Edmund Muskie: Muskie was on the ticket with Hubert Humphrey losing to the Nixon/Agnew ticket in 1968. While Muskie was the frontrunner for the 1972 nomination, he eventually lost to George McGovern.
Sargent Shriver: George McGovern's last minute ersatz running mate tried out for the nomination in 1976 but did not succeed and returned to private life.
Walter Mondale: Jimmy Carter's vice president ran for and won the nomination in 1984 after losing reelection in 1980. While Mondale is the only person on this list who won the nomination of his party in the election after losing the previous race as the vice presidential candidate, he did lose in a landslide to Republican incumbent Ronald Reagan.
Geraldine Ferraro: She's the only person on this list who actually does not belong on this list as the 1984 running mate of Walter Mondale never though the presidency herself. She actually managed to do worse: Ferraro ran for the US Senate in 1992 and 1998 and lost both times - in the primary.
Joe Lieberman: Good old Joe. This is actually kinda tragic. He was the only vice presidential nominee on this list who was cheeted out of this job. Would he have become VP in 2000, it's unlikely he ever would have run for the presidency in 2004 where he lost every primary and caucus he competed in and was not even endorsed by his 2000 running mate. It's also unlikely he would have left the Democratic party (but who really knows with this guy) and maybe he would have run for the nomination this year instead of supporting the Republican nominee.
John Edwards: After running for the top job in 2004, he was chosen by the eventual winner John Kerry as his running mate. Kerry/Edwards eventually lost to Bush/Cheney and Edwards ran again in 2008. This time he only came in third behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. However, the ultimate disgrace was not his second failed try for the Democratic nomination but the public unravelling of his private life.
As you can see from that list above, it's not necessarily a career boost to be the vice presidential nominee of a losing ticket. More often than not this will have been the high point of your career and it's downhill afterwards. Clearly, there are exceptions, Franklin D. Roosevelt chief among them.
But let's be frank: Sarah Palin is no FDR. From a historic perspective, Sarah Palin's chances of winning her party's nomination in 2012 are slim, her chances of winning the presidency, either 2012 or later are even slimmer.