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article imageOp-Ed: Electing the U.S. president may be all in the name

By Marcus Hondro     Jan 30, 2012 in Politics
Supporters of Ron Paul point to a lack of equal coverage as a reason their candidate is not faring better in the 2012 race for the Republican nomination for President. But there may be a more obscure reason Paul, along with Rick Santorum, are behind.
Their first names.
Apologies if this sounds somewhat trivial, but in this race you have the two Republican frontrunners, a Mitt and a Newt, fighting it out to go up against a Democrat named Barack. There has never been an American election with more less-used first names fighting it out for the top job and it may simply be that the election of 2012 is not the time to be a Ron or a Rick.
Yes, it's trivial and no, it's not meant to be critical of their ethnic origins or the names themselves. But hey, it's out there, it is an observable element of it all. Mitt or Newt up against Barack? A look at past U.S. elections shows such a convergence is unprecedented. There has been names like Alson, Alton, Grover, Horatio, Rutherford, Ulysses and Wingfield run for the Presidency, but far more often it's been a commonly used name on the ballot.
Name Game for U.S. President
In the very first presidential election in 1789, three of the four candidates who went up against the winner, a George, were named John, with the fourth being a Robert (we're trying to avoid surnames here, folks). The first 6 U.S. presidential elections had 14 candidates, all with common first names: 3 Johns, 2 Georges, 2 James', 2 Thomas' and one each named Aaron, Charles, Oliver, Robert and Samuel.
The 7th election in 1812, two hundred years ago, finally got what can be described as an unusual name: DeWitt. Dewitt lost to a James but followers of U.S. elections will recognize Dewitt's last name - Clinton (the second Clinton, incidentally, to run for President, after the unrelated George Clinton; in 1888 there was a candidate whose first name was Clinton).
To cut to the chase, in the history of America there have been 56 Presidential elections and those elections were dominated by what could be characterized as common names, names that were, unlike Mitt, Newt or Barack, oft-used during the time in which a person of that name ran for office and which continued with some degree of common usage.
John tries to be U.S. President - 19 times
In those elections in total 123 men ran, some for obscure parties (the Free Soil Party) and others for parties that won office but no longer exist (the Whig Party) and of course Democrats and members of Mitt and Newt's GOP. The Republican who lost to a Barack in 2008, John McCain, was the 19th Presidential candidate to be named John, the most of any name (though only 3 Johns won: John Adams, his son John Quincy Adams and John F. Kennedy Jr.).
There are over a dozen names occurring at least twice, with James (10) and George and William (7 each) the three right behind John. When you add up all those Johns, James', Georges and Williams you get, of the 123 candidates, 43, or 35 percent, with one of those 4 names.
2012: Barack v. Mitt or Newt or...?
That stat makes this election year of 2012, with a Barack up against a Mitt or a Newt - okay, yeah, Rick and Ron ain't gone, not yet - but possibly up against a Mitt or a Newt, off the charts unique. It just seems how things are working out and given all that, from this quarter the suggestion to Ron is that he try using his middle name from here on in.
It's not bona-fide unusual, not in the realm of Barack, Mitt or Newt, but given there has never been an Ernest run for the Presidency, it might give him a better shot. As for Rick Santorum, that won't help him at all - his middle name is John.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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