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John Adams. John Quincy Adams.

George Bush. George W. Bush.

Father and son. Same first and last name, useless middle initials.

John Adams served one term after playing second seat to the immensely popular George Washington as Washington’s Vice President. He was then resoundingly voted out in favor of Thomas Jefferson.

George Bush served one term after playing second seat to the immensely popular Ronald Reagan as Reagan’s Vice President. He was then resoundingly voted out in favor of Bill Clinton.

John Quincy Adams was put in office in spite of the fact that Andrew Jackson won the plurality of the popular vote as well as a plurality of the Electoral College (at that time in history if no one candidate got a majority of the Electoral College, the House of Representatives decided the matter). In this race, a third party candidate severely altered the nature of the election. Henry Clay ran independently and won just enough votes that no one else was able to put together a majority. He then threw his support behind Adams in the House and is considered to be the reason Adams was elected.

George W. Bush is currently behind in the popular vote, but may eek out a win in the Electoral College. If he is elected, there’s no doubt that Ralph Nader’s participation in the election as a third party candidate played a major part, as the majority of Nader supporters favored Al Gore over Bush. It looks like we can even argue that, due to his unfortunate placement on the ballot that caused people to accidentally cast their votes for both Gore and Buchanan, Buchanan’s run as a third party candidate may have made a difference too.

In any case, history seems to be making a statement that father-son president teams suck, and that if the system weren’t so screwed up, the sons never would have been elected in the first place.

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