The Electoral Scorecard of 2016’s Presidential Candidates

The current field of announced and likely candidates has amassed 107 winning campaigns against 22 losses; six candidates are batting 1.000

georgepataki10.jpgBy the end of the summer, there could be 21 major party (non-fringe) candidates running for the presidency.

Sixteen have officially announced – 12 Republicans and four Democrats – with four additional GOPers (Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Scott Walker, Chris Christie) and one Democrat (Jim Webb) waiting in the wings.

All but three of these candidates have won elected office at least once (all but Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump) and all but two (Carson and Trump) have run at least one political campaign.

Collectively, these 21 candidates ran for office nearly 130 times prior to the 2016 presidential race.

So which candidate has won the most elections? And who has suffered through the most losing campaigns?

A Smart Politics study finds that the 2016 presidential field has won 107 of 129 electoral campaigns during their political careers, or 82.9 percent, with George Pataki owning the best record at 10-0 and Bernie Sanders tallying the most wins (14) and losses (six).

Six of the 2016 presidential contenders are undefeated when running for elected office although half of these have run for office only one time.

George Pataki of New York has compiled the most impressive record at 10 wins and no defeats.

Pataki was elected mayor of Peekskill in 1981 and 1983 and won races to the New York Assembly in 1984, 1986, 1988, and 1990, the New York Senate in 1992, and the governorship in 1994, 1998, and 2002.

South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham has won eight elections without a loss with a victory to the South Carolina House in 1992, the U.S. House in 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000, and the U.S. Senate in 2002, 2008, and 2014.

Marco Rubio of Florida has seven victories under his belt – to the West Miami City Commission in 1998, the Florida House in 2000 (special), 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006, and the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Jim Webb have only run for elected office once – each winning a U.S. Senate seat.

In addition to Pataki, three other candidates have notched 10 or more political wins.

Vermont’s Bernie Sanders leads the way with 14 victories, although his six losses are also tops among the 2016 contenders.

Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington four times (1981, 1983, 1985, 1987), the state’s at-large U.S. Representative eight times (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004), and U.S. Senator twice (2006, 2012).

Sanders also lost two campaigns for the U.S. Senate (1972, 1974), three gubernatorial races (1972, 1976, 1986), and one U.S. House bid (1988).

John Kasich of Ohio has notched 12 victories – one to the State Senate (1978), nine to the U.S. House (1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998), and two gubernatorial elections (2010, 2014).

Kasich also had a brief campaign for president in 2000 but ended his run in the summer of 1999.

Wisconsin’s Scott Walker has won 11 races following a 1990 defeat for a seat to the Wisconsin Assembly.

Walker then won elections to the Assembly five times (1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000), for Milwaukee County Executive three times (2002, 2004, 2008), and for governor three times (2010, 2012, 2014).

In addition to Sanders, three other candidates have launched more than one failed political campaign.

New Jersey’s Chris Christie is batting only .500 on his electoral scorecard – winning a race to become a Morris County Freeholder in 1994 as well as the gubernatorial elections of 2009 and 2013, but also losing bids to the New Jersey Senate (1993), New Jersey Assembly (1995) and for reelection as a Morris County Freeholder (1997).

Rick Santorum, meanwhile, lost a reelection bid for the U.S. Senate in 2006 and his quest for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 to go with his two U.S. House (1990, 1992) and two U.S. Senate (1994, 2000) victories.

Mike Huckabee also endured failed U.S. Senate (1992) and presidential (2008) campaigns along with two victories each for lieutenant governor (1993, 1994) and governor (1998, 2002).

In addition to Fiorina, six other 2016 candidates have each lost one race: Martin O’Malley (1990, Maryland Senate), Jeb Bush (1994, Florida governor), Bobby Jindal (2003, Louisiana governor), Lincoln Chafee (2006, Rhode Island U.S. Senate), Hillary Clinton (2008, Democratic presidential nomination), and Rick Perry (2012, GOP presidential nomination).

Interestingly, Perry has won as many races as a Democrat (three terms to the Texas House in 1984, 1986, 1988) as Hillary Clinton (two), Jim Webb (one), Bernie Sanders (zero), and Lincoln Chafee (zero) have won as Democratic nominees.

Electoral Record of 2016 Presidential Candidates

Candidate
Won
Lost
Total
% Won
George Pataki
10
0
10
100.0
Lindsey Graham
8
0
8
100.0
Marco Rubio
7
0
7
100.0
Ted Cruz
1
0
1
100.0
Rand Paul
1
0
1
100.0
Jim Webb*
1
0
1
100.0
John Kasich*
12
1
13
92.3
Scott Walker*
11
1
12
91.7
Rick Perry
9
1
10
90.0
Lincoln Chafee
8
1
9
88.9
Martin O’Malley
6
1
7
85.7
Bobby Jindal*
4
1
5
80.0
Bernie Sanders
14
6
20
70.0
Mike Huckabee
4
2
6
66.7
Rick Santorum
4
2
6
66.7
Hillary Clinton
2
1
3
66.7
Jeb Bush
2
1
3
66.7
Chris Christie*
3
3
6
50.0
Carly Fiorina
0
1
1
0.0
Ben Carson
0
0
0
N/A
Donald Trump
0
0
0
N/A
Total
107
22
129
82.9

* Candidates who have not formally launched presidential bids. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

Collectively, the 2016 field has won 39 elections to federal offices, 47 to state offices, and 21 to county and city offices.

For federal office, candidates have 25 victories to the U.S. House against one loss, 14 U.S. Senate victories against six losses, and five unsuccessful presidential runs.

For state office: 22 gubernatorial elections against five losses, 20 state legislative wins versus three defeats, three wins for lieutenant governor, and two wins for state commissioner posts.

For local office: 12 mayoral wins, five city council victories, three wins for county executive, and one win and one loss for county commissioner.

Electoral Record of 2016 Presidential Candidates by Level of Office

Office
Won
Lost
Total
% Won
President*
0
5
5
0.0
US Senate
14
6
20
70.0
US House
25
1
26
96.2
Governor
22
5
27
81.5
Lieutenant Governor
3
0
3
100.0
Commissioner
2
0
2
100.0
State Senate
2
1
3
66.7
State House
18
2
20
90.0
County Executive
3
0
3
100.0
County Commissioner**
1
1
2
50.0
Mayor
12
0
12
100.0
City Council
5
0
5
100.0
Total
107
21
128
83.6

* Includes candidates who withdrew before primaries. ** County Freeholder. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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