John McCaslin

"What's in a name?" he began, saying that when selecting nominees, Democrats and Republicans "should be mindful of the potential impact of a factor rarely considered by political scientists and strategists: The number of syllables in the combined names of the ticket's candidates."

The bottom line: "No ticket with a total of more than six syllables has been successful in presidential elections. Indeed, as a rule, the ticket with the fewer number of total syllables wins."

Consider in 2004 when the three-syllable ticket "Bush-Cheney" defeated the four-syllable slate "Kerry-Edwards." In 2000, the same three-syllables beat the four-syllable offering of "Gore-Lieberman."

Yes, the "Clinton-Gore" win over "Dole-Kemp" in 1996 was one of the few exceptions. (One could argue that the candidacy of "Perot" indirectly added two syllables to the Republican ticket and drained votes away. Ditto with "Bush-Quayle" in 1992).

Otherwise, the five-syllable "Dukakis-Bentsen" ticket had no chance in 1988, nor did the five-syllable 1984 Democratic ticket of "Mondale-Ferraro" against the three-syllable "Reagan-Bush," which also triumphed in 1980 against the four-syllable "Carter-Mondale."

So what does this mean, if anything, for the prospects of both parties in 2008?

The way Mr. Arnone sees it, Sen. Hillary Rodham "Clinton's" two syllables make her teaming with any Democratic candidates a "syllabic safe choice." Republicans have more potential problems.

"A four-syllable 'Giuliani' on the ticket creates a serious challenge," he warned. "A Giuliani-Huckabee ticket, for example, would need to do what no other presidential ticket in American history has ever done: Win with seven syllables."

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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