Candidate contest: Big Fail (but I declare a winner anyway)

On August 8 of last year, I put up a contest asking readers to name three Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, to wit:

“I’m having this contest now because it’s early on and many things are uncertain—remember the 2008 election? Some surprises are certainly in store. So I have a two-part question, and the winner is the first person who guesses both answers correctly (one entry per person). The contest will remain open for a while—until June 30, 2016, a few weeks before both parties’ conventions.  But since the first correct guesser gets the prize, it’s in your interest to enter early. And I’m curious about the readers’ views.

  • Name both the Democratic presidential candidate (not a hard one at this point) AND the vice-presidential candidate.
  • Name the Republican presidential candidate. 

Given that the Republican’s presidential pick is so uncertain, I won’t ask you to name the GOP vice-presidential candidate.”

The prize was an audiobook version (signed) of Faith Versus Fact.

Well, as of yesterday the answers are known: Hillary Clinton, Virginian Senator Tim Kaine, and Donald Trump, respectively.  Was there a winner among the 92 comments and 35 guesses?

No. First, I was amused by this comment:

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 6.56.59 AM

Yes, I guess we all thought that was not a possibility. But one person did guess that Trump would be the nominee; the vast majority of the rest picked Jeb Bush (two thought Trump would run as an independent). NOBODY guessed the Democratic VP except for one reader, who, sadly, got the Republican nominee wrong:

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 7.02.47 AM

Looking at just the picks for Democratic presidential candidates, 35 people voted, with 25 correctly choosing Hillary Clinton and 10 choosing others, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Among the 35 people picking GOP candidates, only one correctly picked Trump. The vast majority of the others selected Jeb Bush, with a few giving the nod to Marco Rubio.

So, it was a BIG FAIL. But that’s not surprising given the difficulty of picking a Democratic VP candidate as well as adjudicating the clown show that became the Republican nomination.

So as to not make everybody feel bad, I am going to award a prize anyway, to GEORGE, who deserves it for picking Tim Kaine as the Democratic VP candidate.

George, email me to claim your prize. You can choose between either a signed book or a signed audiobook of Faith Versus Fact, and with a cat drawn in/on it if you so desire.


  1. Filippo
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    NY Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow has recently lamented about how “boring” the Rupublican VP candidate, Mike Pence, is. Per the 7/23/16 hard-copy NY Times, apparently Kaine has been dubbed no less “boring” in edicts issued by other such self-annointed media omniscients.

    Is Kaine somehow less “boring” on account of his (presumably) more closely accommodating Mr. Blow’s political views? I wonder if Mr. Blow will be able to survive this double-whammy dose of boredom. I wonder if I should pray for him to be delivered from this affliction.

    And so it is and goes with politics – human primate herd management. Even a national media columnist apparently cannot be satisfied with rational thought and rational policy formulation. He and many others apparently have to be “entertained” with an abundance of ululating and caterwauling bloviation.

  2. George
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    That’s me!!! How about I stop by your office after you return from Poland and you can sign it in person? I will email.

    • Posted July 23, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      That was a very insightful guess for VP! Impressive.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 23, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      ¡Felicitaciones por tu éxito, amigo! (Kaine is, I’m happy to say, a fluent Spanish speaker. He’s also capable of self-deprecating humor, as is Mike Pence — something that was otherwise utterly lacking at last-week’s RNC. The Donald, of course, has no inclination for self-deprecation whatsoever.)

    • Posted July 23, 2016 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Sure, if you’re in Chicago. Congrats.

    • bluemaas
      Posted July 23, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Sweeeet, Mr George !

      Quite lovely indeed, Dr Coyne, for The Awarding After All ! Contests are such fun Here / such (much – needed) distraction from Out There.

      Mr George: Curious I am (of you, Curious George): Out of all of the possibilities one could have guessed, how is it that you arrived at your choice of Mr Kaine ? !


      • George
        Posted July 23, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        I assumed that the VP choice would be a sitting US Senator because that is what Democrats do. Starting with the 1940 election, every original VP pick (other than a sitting VP) except in 1984 has been a sitting US Senator. In 1984, Walter Mondale chose House member Geraldine Ferraro. I added the qualifier original choice because in 1972 George McGovern chose Thomas Eagleton, a senator from Missouri. When it was disclosed that Eagleton had suffered from depression and underwent ECT, he stepped down from the ticket and was replaced by Sargent Shriver.

        I assumed Hillary would pick a running mate who had a seat in a state with a Democratic governor who would name his replacement. I thought Hillary would not want to push things by picking a woman or a minority. Americans could accept a first woman president but only one big change at a time. Want to keep a white guy around for those who like such things.

        No one from New York since the Consitution mandates that POTUS and VP come from different states. I also thought she would pick someone from the less than progressive side of the Democratic Party. For that warm and fuzzy feeling that people who want a white guy want.

        Plug all that in, Tim Kaine pops out. Or at least he did back in August.

        • bluemaas
          Posted July 23, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

          W h o a ! What a mighty fine — and balanced and thoughtful — analysis.
          And for only an allowed – one contest entry !

          Thank you for this explaining and, again, Congratulations !


        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 23, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          He’s also a Catholic from a swing state. If Cruz or Rubio would’ve won the GOP nomination, I was pretty sure HRC would pick a Hispanic for the bottom half of the ticket, probably Julian Castro. But once it was clear her opponent would be Trump, Kaine had the inside track.

          Nice job making the call all the way back in August, George.

  3. ladyatheist
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    George was also correct about the Republican VP nominee but got the name wrong. Koch money and Mike Pence are a twofer.

  4. jeremyp
    Posted July 24, 2016 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    I’m not going to post a similar comment about the presidency. My faith that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas has been destroyed both by Trump’s nomination and my own country’s vote for driving off the cliff.

  5. Dave
    Posted July 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Picking Kaine?? George, maybe you have a career as political consultant.

  6. Newish Gnu
    Posted July 24, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Well, I also picked Clnton and Kaine but many hours after George.

    Congrats, George!

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