If History Is Any Guide

One of the big questions now is “what becomes of Sarah Palin?”  Throughout the election, all we heard from the Religious Right was that she had been chosen by God as the answer to their prayers and had overnight become their new leader around whom they intend to plot their return to power

But is that really true?  Newsweek seems to think it must be somewhat likely, which is why it produced this playbook of what she needs to do to be the GOP nominee in 2012.  And given that exit polls showed that fully 60% of voters deemed Palin unqualified to be president, she’ll certainly have her work cut out for her, especially considering that polls don’t show much excitement for the idea of a Palin nomination:

NBC-WSJ GOP pollster Neil Newhouse did a post-election survey last night, and here’s what he found: Just 12% of those surveyed believed Palin should be the GOP’s new leader; instead 29% of voters said Romney, followed by 20% who say Huckabee. Among GOPers, it was Romney 33%, Huckabee 20% and Palin 18%.

Now, while I am no expert on these sorts of things, all of this speculation about Palin being the nominee in 2012 seems to miss a rather basic point that, in recent US history, no losing vice-presidential nominee has gone on the win their party’s nomination in the next election. 

Just take a look at the history here. John Edwards did not become the Democratic nominee this year after serving as John Kerry’s running mate in 2004, nor did Joe Lieberman become the nominee in 2004 after 2000.   Jack Kemp, Dan Quayle, Lloyd Bentsen, and Geraldine Ferraro failed to become their party’s nominee during the next election following their loss.  Sargent Shriver, Edmund Muskie, William Miller, Henry Cabot Lodge, Estes Kefauver, John Sparkman, Earl Warren … the list goes on but you get the point: each failed to become their party’s nominee. 

In fact, the only losing VP nominee in recent history to become the presidential candidate the next time around was Walter Mondale, and we all know how that turned out.  Before that, you have Bob Dole who lost as Gerald Ford’s VP in 1976 but did eventually become the Republican nominee … twenty years later and then lost again. 

So not only is it historically unlikely that Palin will even become the GOP’s nominee in 2012, it is even less historically likely that she will actually win the election if she does.