If you'll think back to the 2008 Democratic nomination process, you might recall the phrase 'dream ticket'. This was used when considering the possibility of Hilary Clinton, second place in the nomination race, being the running mate of Barack Obama, the eventual nominee.
Rick Santorum has now invoked the possibility of being Romney's running mate.
This leads to one simple question: has this ever actually happened? Has any ticket ever been the 'dream ticket'- the runner-up being the running mate? And if so, what happened to that dream ticket in November?
(Thanks to Our Campaigns for providing some much-needed stats on everything that follows.)
In the first few elections, the answer was yes. In fact, it was mandated as such- each elector cast two votes, the person who gained the most votes became President, and the person with the second-most votes became Vice President.
In 1788 and 1792, this process gave George Washington John Adams as his VP. In 1796, John Adams got Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson and Adams both technically had running mates, but under the rules of the day, they were on their own.
So that's not really in the spirit of what we're looking for. So let's discount those and keep going through the timeline, up to the point where candidates began to have formal running mates who stood to enter office with their nominees.
1800: There were only two candidates per party- Thomas Jefferson and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney from the Federalists, and John Adams and Aaron Burr from the Democratic-Republicans. The Constitution had not yet been altered to allow self-selection of running mates, so those were the tickets by fiat. Still not really what we're trying to get at.
From 1804, party bosses elected the running mate without input from the nominee. However, they were free to choose the runner-up or someone else. So this is where we can pick up.
1804: N/A. Neither candidate had effective opposition for the nomination.
1808: The Federalists had no effective opposition. Democratic-Republican nominee James Madison was given third-place finisher George Clinton. We need 2nd place. No dream ticket here.
1812: N/A. Neither candidate had effective opposition.
1816: Democratic-Republican James Monroe took noncandidate Daniel D. Tompkins. ('Noncandidate' in this context means 'did not run for the Presidential half of the ticket'.) The Federalists had no effective opposition.
1820: N/A. James Monroe was completely unopposed.
1824: Four candidates ran for President in a post-Federalist environment. The unanimous Vice President, John C. Calhoun, was none of these people.
1828: N/A. Neither candidate had effective opposition.
1832: The Democrats and National Republicans saw no effective opposition. The Anti-Masonic nominee was William Wirt, who took noncandidate Amos Ellmaker as his running mate.
1836: The Democrats had no opposition. The Whigs wound up with four candidates and two tickets, but both nominees, William Henry Harrison and Hugh Lawson White, took noncandidates as their running mates.
1840: Democratic nominee Martin Van Buren somehow wound up without a running mate. Whig nominee William Henry Harrison got noncandidate John Tyler as a running mate.
1844: The Whigs had no effective opposition. Democratic nominee James Polk got noncandidate George M. Dallas as a running mate.
1848: Whig candidate Zachary Taylor got noncandidate Millard Fillmore. Democratic nominee Lewis Cass got William Orlando Butler, who never placed higher than fifth in the convention balloting. Free Soil nominee Martin Van Buren took fourth-place finisher Charles Francis Adams, Sr.
1852: Whig nominee Winfield Scott took noncandidate William Alexander Graham. Democratic nominee Franklin Pierce took noncandidate William R. King.
1856: Democratic nominee James Buchanan took noncandidate John C, Breckenridge. Republican nominee John C. Fremont took noncandidate William L. Dayton. Know Nothing nominee Andrew Johnson took noncandidate Andrew Jackson Donelson.
1860: Constitutional Union nominee John Bell took fourth-place finisher Edward Everett. Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln took noncandidate Hannibal Hamlin. Northern Democratic nominee Stephen A. Douglas took noncandidate Herschel V. Johnson. Southern Democratic nominee John C. Breckenridge took noncandidate Joseph Lane.
1864: Republican nominee took noncandidate Andrew Johnson. Democratic nominee George McLellan took noncandidate George H. Pendleton.
1868: The Republicans had no opposition. Democratic nominee Horatio Seymour took Francis Preston Blair, who topped out at fourth place during convention balloting and wasn't among the final five receiving votes.
1872: Liberal Republican nominee Horace Greeley took Benjamin Gratz Brown, who started in fourth place and dropped out early in convention balloting. The Republicans had no opposition.
1876: Republican nominee Rutherford B. Hayes took noncandidate William Wheeler. Democratic nominee Samuel J. Tilden took runner-up Thomas A. Hendricks. DREAM TICKET #1. We'll get back to them at the end.
1880: Republican nominee James Garfield took noncandidate Chester A. Arthur. Democratic nominee Winfield Scott Hancock took noncandidate William Hayden English.
1884: Republican nominee James G. Blaine took John Logan, who came in fourth in balloting. Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland took Thomas A. Hendricks, who came in third in balloting.
1888: The Democrats had no opposition. Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison took noncandidate Levi Morton.
1892: Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison took noncandidate Whitelaw Reid. Democratic nominee Grover Cleveland took Adlai E. Stevenson, who came in fifth in balloting.
1896: Republican nominee William McKinley took noncandidate Garret A. Hobart. Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan took noncandidate Arthur Sewall.
1900: The Republicans had no opposition. Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan took noncandidate Adlai E. Stevenson.
1904: Republican nominee Teddy Roosevelt took noncandidate Charles W. Fairbanks. Democratic Alton B. Parker took noncandidate Henry G. Davis.
1908: Republican nominee William Howard Taft took noncandidate James S. Sherman. Democratic nominee William Jennings Bryan took noncandidate John W. Kern.
1912: Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson took Thomas R. Marshall, who topped out at fourth place in convention balloting. Republican nominee William Howard Taft took noncandidate James S. Sherman, and then replaced him with noncandidate Nicholas Murray Butler. The Bull Moose Party had no opposition.
1916: The Democrats had no opposition. Republican nominee Charles Evans Hughes took Charles W. Fairbanks, who topped out at fourth place in balloting.
1920: Republican nominee Warren Harding took Calvin Coolidge, who topped out at sixth place in balloting. Democratic nominee James Cox took noncandidate Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1924: Republican nominee Calvin Coolidge took noncandidate Charles G. Dawes. Democratic nominee John W. Davis took Charles W. Bryan, who topped out at 10th place in convention balloting. The Progressives saw no opposition.
1928: Democratic nominee Al Smith took noncandidate Joseph Taylor Robinson. Republican nominee Herbert Hoover took Charles Curtis, who came in third place in balloting.
1932: Republican nominee took noncandidate Charles Curtis. Democratic nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt took John Nance Garner, who topped out at third place in balloting.
1936: Republican nominee Alf Landon took Frank Knox, who came in somewhere indiscriminate behind runner-up William Borah. Democratic nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt stuck with noncandidate Garner.
1940: Democratic nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt took noncandidate Henry A. Wallace. Republican Wendell Willkie took noncandidate Charles W. McNary.
Right about here is when we shift to noting the results of primary elections and not the convention itself. Also around this point: the nominee was starting to get to have their choice of running mate.
1944: There was no Democratic opposition. Republican nominee Thomas Dewey took third-place primary finisher John W. Bricker.
1948: Republican nominee Thomas Dewey took primary vote leader Earl Warren. (Dewey, despite being the front-runner by convention time, had finished fourth in the primaries.) DREAM TICKET #2. Democratic nominee Harry Truman took noncandidate Alben Barkley. The Dixiecrats had no opposition.
1952: Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson took noncandidate John Sparkman. Republican nominee Dwight Eisenhower took noncandidate Richard Nixon.
1956: There was no Republican opposition. Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson took runner-up Estes Kefauver. DREAM TICKET #3.
1960: Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy took Lyndon B. Johnson, who technically ran but didn't campaign, attempting to be a compromise candidate in case the leaders ate each other alive; Hubert Humphrey would be the runner-up. Republican nominee Richard Nixon took noncandiate Henry Cabot Lodge.
1964: Democratic nominee Lyndon B. Johnson took 13th-place finisher Hubert Humphrey. Republican nominee Barry Goldwater took noncandidate William E. Miller.
1968: Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey took noncandidate Edward Muskie. Republican nominee Richard Nixon took noncandidate Spiro Agnew.
1972: Democratic nominee George McGovern took noncandidate Thomas Eagleton, then replaced him with noncandidate Sargent Shriver. Republican nominee took noncandidate Spiro Agnew.
1976: Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter took noncandidate Walter Mondale. Republican nominee Gerald Ford took noncandidate Bob Dole.
1980: Democratic nominee Jimmy Carter took noncandidate Walter Mondale. Republican nominee Ronald Reagan took runner-up George H.W. Bush. DREAM TICKET #4.
1984: Republican nominee Ronald Reagan took noncandidate George H.W. Bush. (He's not the runner-up this time. Harold Stassen was.) Democratic nominee Walter Mondale took noncandidate Geraldine Ferraro.
1988: Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis took noncandidate Lloyd Bentsen. Republican nominee George H.W. Bush took noncandidate Dan Quayle.
1992: Republican nominee George H.W. Bush took noncandidate Dan Quayle. Democratic nominee Bill Clinton took noncandidate Al Gore. There was no Reform opposition.
1996: Democratic nominee Bill Clinton took noncandidate Al Gore. Republican nominee Bob Dole took noncandidate Jack Kemp.
2000: Democratic nominee Al Gore took noncandidate Joe Lieberman. Republican nominee George W. Bush took noncandidate Dick Cheney.
2004: There was no Republican opposition. Democratic nominee John Kerry took runner-up John Edwards. DREAM TICKET #5.
2008: Democratic nominee Barack Obama took sixth-place finisher Joe Biden. Republican nominee John McCain took noncandidate Sarah Palin.
So. Paring it down to just the dream tickets from 1804 on, you've got:
1876: Samuel J. Tilden/Thomas A. Hendricks, Democrats. The ticket lost to Rutherford B. Hayes 185 electoral votes to 184, but only after an Electoral College dispute in which the Hayes ticket stole enough electoral votes to win election.
1948: Thomas Dewey/Earl Warren, Republicans, and, well, Dewey Defeats Truman. Truman and Barkley got 303 electoral votes, Dewey/Warren got 189, and Dixiecrats Strom Thurmond and Fielding L. Wright snagged 39.
1956: Adlai Stevenson/Estes Kefauver, Democrats. They were spanked by Eisenhower and Nixon 457-73.
1980: Ronald Reagan/George H.W. Bush, Republicans. They smoked Carter and Mondale 489-89. They then easily won re-election in 1984 as a non-dream-ticket.
2004: John Kerry/John Edwards, Democrats. They lost to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney 286-251.
So if Romney were to take Santorum on board, it wouldn't be unprecedented. It has happened before. However, dream tickets have a won/loss record of 1-4. One of the losses really should have been a win, but at the end of the day, it was still a loss. On average, the dream tickets have picked up 237.2 electoral votes. Their opposing tickets have averaged 264 electoral votes.
The dream ticket isn't quite as much of a dream as the name might imply. If the nominee is taking the runner-up, it may not be a matter of giving their party the best of both worlds, so much as it is done to keep the party from going at each other's throats and getting so divided that the opposition party cruises past them. As much as the best-of-both-worlds rationale may be played up- and it will- simply holding the party together is a large part of why it was considered in 2008, and it may play into Santorum's evoking it now.
The next question: will Romney take the chance?