As I’ve noted before in this space, I decided to endure what looked to be a particularly ugly presidential election by delving into the details, which is otherwise known as becoming a big ol’ nerd.
It didn’t start out that way, but I took off by the second or third week I was offering little presidential election trivia posts on Facebook. I think it started, actually, by thinking of the ages of the candidates we have in 2016, both of them senior citizens and not by a little. I wondered what the average age of our presidents was (around 55) and we were off to the races.
I should have known. I do love history, and I can think of odd ways of looking at it if I try. I enjoyed wondering which presidents we tend to forget or rank low on the list in the presidential pantheon who actually were pretty popular in their time. Warren G. Harding was enormously popular. Herbert Hoover won election in 1928 with over 60% of the popular vote.
Now. Of course. This is just one of those things, those things we all have and do and integrate into our personalities until, maybe, we get too much distance and don’t realize no one else cares. I spent yesterday, for example, in a seriously ecstatic state over the knowledge, which I discovered accidentally, which is how this all happens anyway, that in three different presidential elections, two men with the same first name ran against each other. Are you excited yet?
Ah, well. This makes me think I’m just feeling better. If I can get all goofy and annoying by a piece of trivia so boring I imagine William Jennings Bryan, who famously could speak for hours, would be yawning and checking his phone a lot, I’m thinking that’s not a bad thing.
Bryan was the key, by the way. He ran three times, twice against William McKinley and once against William Howard Taft. Ergo, three All-William elections. Alert the presses.
We had four presidents named William, by the way. Taft and McKinley were joined by Harrison and Clinton.
Here’s another: 43 men have served as president (we count Cleveland as two presidencies but only one guy), and they had 28 different names. Or, another way, 65% of our presidents had unique first names. Among the duplicates, there were six James (Madison, Monroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield, and Carter), or 14% of presidents.
John and William tied at 4 each (9%), and bringing up the rear are three Georges (Washington plus the Bushes), two Franklins (Pierce and Roosevelt), and two Andrews (Jackson and Johnson).
Last names matching are so rare as to not be worth mentioning, but while I’ve got you: Two Adams, two Harrisons, two Roosevelts, two Johnsons, and two Bushes. All but the two Johnsons (Andrew and Lyndon) were related. Nothing of use here.
But it gives me pleasure, and no one has to read it. It’s a Facebook kind of thing.
Tomorrow I head for Austin, which means today I freak out about packing. All normal.
And then I’ll have 10 days away, trying to get what work I have done while soaking up the little-boyness, and enjoying the warm weather (mid-80s it looks like; it’s wet and gray here, usually not hitting 60 degrees). I doubt politics or presidents will creep in much.
And then I’ll have a week at home, probably keeping one eye on the downward spiral of Mr. Trump and one eye on the Seahawks, and then we’ll be ready for Thanksgiving, and giving thanks.
And if by some chance my ballot arrives today (Washington is all vote by mail), I’m going to fill out that sucker and drop it in a box before I head for the airport, having done by duty and learned a few things in the process.
But mostly heading to Grandpapa land, placing trivia exactly where it belongs. Under “trivia.” There are, as it turns out, other things.
Still kind of excited about that William-William thing, though.