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Most Significant VP's in US History


vcczar
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Taking a break from working on things to make this list. Here's how I'll do the point system for the VP Ranking:

  • Succeeded as president due to a president's death or resignation +50
  • Followed the incumbent president by becoming president immediately after +25
  • Significant VP first, enhanced office+20
  • Followed their president to become president in their own right, but not immediately afterward +10
  • Reelected as VP, won their home state +5
  • Tiebreaking votes +n=tie-breaking votes

Ultimately, there's a good argument for Kamala Harris being one of the most significant VPs in history, regardless if one things she's doing a great, decent, or atrocious job. This ranking is not a ranking of competency. It is only a ranking of significance. She gets a lot of points on demgraphics and she's already 3rd for most tie-breaking votes. The Senate could end up being 50-50 again, so she could feasibly break John C Calhoun's record before the end of 2024, making her the most significant of all time. Even if we strip demographics/firsts as a criteria and leave it to helping win a state, break-ties, and follow a fallen president, then she's near the top. If the criteria is only breaking tie votes, then she's #3 and could possibly become #1. 

Here's the ranking for most significant VP

  1. John Adams +25+20+5+5+5+29= 89
    1. First VP, followed Washington, 29-tie-breaking votes
  2. Kamala Harris +20+20+20+23+5 = 88
    1. First woman, first Asian, first black, and 23-tiebreaking votes
  3. John C Calhoun +20+20+5+31 = 76
    1. First to resign and first to serve VP for two-parties, and 31-tiebreaking votes
  4. Richard Nixon +20+20+5+5+5+10+8 = 73
    1. First "modern VP," first VP sent in a major overseas trip
  5. John Tyler +50+20= 70
    1. First VP to become president after a fallen president
  6. Gerald Ford +50+20 = 70
    1. First VP to be appointed via Amendment requiring a filled vacancy
  7. Millard Fillmore +50+5+3 = 58
  8. Chester A Arthur +50+5+3 = 58
  9. Harry S Truman +50+5+1 = 56
  10. Lyndon B Johnson +50+5 = 55
  11. Andrew Johnson +50+5 = 55
  12. Calvin Coolidge +50+5 = 55
  13. Theodore Roosevelt +50+5 = 55
  14. George Clinton +20+14+20 = 54
    1. First VP to die in office and first VP to be VP for two different presidents
  15. Thomas Jefferson +25+20+3 = 48
    1. First VP to not be of the same party as his president
  16. George HW Bush +25+5+5+5+7 = 47
  17. Martin Van Buren +25+5+14= 44
  18. Dick Cheney +20+5+5+5+8 = 43
    1. VP that was said to have had the largest role in an administration
  19. Daniel D Tompkins +20+5+5+5++6 = 41
    1. First VP to be reelected under the party ticket election system
  20. Mike Pence +20+13+5 = 38
    1. First VP to defy his president's coup wishes and validate the vote of the American people
  21. John C Breckinridge +20+5+10 = 35
    1. Youngest VP ever
  22. Aaron Burr +20+3+5 = 28
    1. First VP to be dropped by his president for reelection
  23. Charles Curtis +20+5+2 = 27
    1. First Native American heritage president
  24. Walter Mondale +20+1+5 = 26
    1. First VP to be a key advisor for a president
  25. Joe Biden +5+5+5+10 = 25
  26. Schuyler Colfax +18+5 = 23
  27. Nelson Rockefeller +20 = 20
    1. First unelected VP to be appointed by an unelected president due to an amendment
  28. Al Gore +5+5+5+4 = 19
  29. Thomas R Marshall +5+5+9 = 19
  30. John Nance Garner +5+5+5+3 = 18
  31. George M Dallas +11+5 = 16
  32. Richard Mentor Johnson +14 = 14
  33. Alben W Barkley 5+8 = 13
  34. Hannibal Hamlin +5+7 = 12
  35. Hubert Humphrey +5+4 = 9
  36. Levi P Morton +5 + 4 = 9
  37. James S Sherman +5+4 = 9
  38. Elbridge Gerry +9 = 9
  39. Adlai E Stevenson I +5+2 = 7
  40. Charles G Dawes +5+2 = 7
  41. William A Wheeler +6 = 6
  42. Garret Hobart +5+1 = 6
  43. Henry Wilson +5+1 = 6
  44. Charles W Fairbanks +5 = 5
    1. Won his state but broke no ties
  45. Dan Quayle +5 = 5
    1. Won his state but broke no ties
  46. Thomas A Hendricks +5 = 5
    1. Won his state and died soon after
  47. William R King +5 = 5
    1. Won his state and died soon after
  48. Henry A Wallace +4 = 4
    1. Failed to win his state but broke 4 ties
  49. Spiro T Agnew +2 = 2
    1. Failed to win his state and broke only two ties before resigning
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John Adams would no doubt be surprised by this ranking, given how infuriatingly inconsequential he viewed the Vice Presidency position after he received it.  Haha.  

The only thing I think might be missing from your ranking is their influence on the President.  Granted, this is a hard thing to quantify.  But George Washington never sought Adams' counsel and specifically excluded him from cabinet meetings.  On the flip side, you have the allegations that Dick Cheney functionally "was" the President, or close partnerships like Obama & Biden, etc.

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38 minutes ago, MrPotatoTed said:

John Adams would no doubt be surprised by this ranking, given how infuriatingly inconsequential he viewed the Vice Presidency position after he received it.  Haha.  

The only thing I think might be missing from your ranking is their influence on the President.  Granted, this is a hard thing to quantify.  But George Washington never sought Adams' counsel and specifically excluded him from cabinet meetings.  On the flip side, you have the allegations that Dick Cheney functionally "was" the President, or close partnerships like Obama & Biden, etc.

The only VPs to probably have any influence are Mondale and Cheney in the sense that they were close advisors. All the VPs since Nixon had a role but they were rarely given that much influence. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

@vcczar interesting premise, but I'd argue that your point system is nice, but rather flawed. Cheney at 19 is waaaaay too low; he's arguably top 3 or 5. I think the matter of whether he was elected/ascended to the presidency knocks him down a lot of notches since he obviously wasn't President. I think people forget that Cheney and his wing (Wolfowitz, Libby, Rummy) for lack of a better term controlled the FoPo of Bush Jr. at least in the first term, a Foreign Policy that largely has ramifications to this day and will continue to do so. Also, I think the pure fact that Cheney was allowed to shape large swaths of the federal bureaucracy with people in his ideological image, some of whom are still very crucial/relevant in decision making, is under-rated. I'd also argue that Bush at 16 is too low, and Fillmore in the top 10 is definitely way too high, but that's an argument for another day.

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