The 2016 Candidates and the Missing Middle | Sojourners

The 2016 Candidates and the Missing Middle

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In this oddest of presidential election seasons, one odd fact is rarely mentioned: the curious age spread of the candidates. 

At their first inauguration, our 43 U.S. presidents* have ranged in age from almost 43 to almost 70. More than half were in their 50s. Their median age was 55, and so was their average age. 

But in 2016, now that we're down to seven candidates (Carson, Cruz, Kasich, Rubio, and Trump vs. Clinton and Sanders), not a single candidate is in his or her 50s.


  • Rubio: 45 years, 237 days
  • Cruz: 46 years, 29 days
  • Kasich: 64 years, 245 days
  • Carson: 65 years, 124 days
  • Clinton: 69 years, 86 days
  • Trump: 70 years, 220 days
  • Sanders: 75 years, 134 days

A few 50-something wannabes have dropped out of the race (Christie, O'Malley, Paul, Santorum), as did some 60-somethings (Bush, Huckabee, Fiorina, Gilmore). If the polls are right, the remaining 60-somethings who have not yet reached Social Security's full retirement age (Kasich and Carson) will not be in the running much longer. If they drop out, we will be left with no candidate over 46 and under 69 on January 20, 2017.

I made a chart to see how weird this is. The current candidates' ages are highlighted in yellow.**

Cruz and Rubio are younger than every elected president except John F. Kennedy (Teddy Roosevelt was even younger, but he became president when McKinley was assassinated).

Clinton is older than every president except Ronald Reagan. Trump and Sanders are older than any president ever.

Looked at another way — the most likely candidates are either younger than my firstborn or older than me. It's just another way this election is shaping up to be one for the history books.


*Yes, I know Mr. Obama is #44 - that's because Grover Cleveland, who was elected to two non-subsequent terms, is counted twice in most lists but not here.
**Red print indicates names and ages of the 16 presidents who served at least two nearly full terms. Except for Ronald Reagan, none of these was older than 62 at first inauguration.

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