### [Politics] Hmmm ... little mention of the 20-Year presidential jinx yet?

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After President Kennedy's assassination in 1963, there was discussion of a string of coincidences that has gone by various names:

From 1840 through 1960, every U.S. president who was elected in a year divisible by 20 (= a presidential election year ending in "0") died while in office. Seven of them.

[Note that in some cases, death occurred in a presidential term later than the one to which the president had been elected in the "0"-year (e.g., Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, died in 1865 after his reelection in 1864). Also note that some of those deaths were by illness (e.g., William Henry Harrison in 1841), not all by assassination.]

But only one president who has died while in office, Zachary Tayler, had not been elected in a year divisible by 20.

Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt, but lived, and is still living, thus breaking the string of such deaths. His near-death (had the bullet traveled only slightly differently, it could have been fatal) leaves the string of coincidence somewhat lingering, though considerably weakened.

Personally, I consider the string of deaths to be only very slightly connected to whether the president was elected in a year divisible by 20, and that that connection consists mostly of the motive some assassins may have derived from noting the previous coincidences.

I suspect that if I or some other mathmatician were to lay out a proper calculation of the probability of the 20-Year coincidences happening at random, taking into consideration how often presidents served more than one term, that the string started in 1840, not the earliest possible 20-year multiple 1800, and other factors of similar nature, we'd find that the probability that 7 out of 8 deaths-while-in-office occurred to presidents elected in a year multiple of 20 is not as small as we might guess.

Let me make a wild guess without having done or seen such a probability calculation: the calculated probability will turn out to be in the range 10-15% -- not a sure thing by any means, but not so unlikely as to be supernaturally spooky. Keep in mind that I'm talking about the probability, _given_ that there were 8 deaths in office among the first 41 presidents and _given_ the historical distribution of their terms in office, that 7 of those deaths would be among the 10 of those presidents who were elected in "0"-years.

Note that among the factors to go into the calculation is that none of the 7 vice presidents who succeeded the "0"-year presidents because of death ever ran as candidates, much less won election, in the next "0"-year election about two decades later. Thus, those 7 of the 41 presidents are almost automatically out of the picture anyway because of their extremely low chance of being eligible to meet the "0"-year criterion. Furthermore, their shorter-than-average terms made them less likely to die while in office (in fact, none of those 7 did). All of this makes the 7-out-of-8 chance higher because there were only 34 presidents without those VP-successors' extremely low probabilities. Other factors would rule out some others.

Anyway ... I'm wondering whether the liklihood of someone's taking a shot (or other assassination method) at the next president will be raised not only by the extraordinary level of resentment likely to linger for four years because of the Florida situation (some people around here have said they'll fly their U.S. flags upside down outside their houses for the next four years if Gore is elected -- "sore losers"?), but also by the desire by someone who might attempt such a thing to feel justified by the 20-year coincidences that destiny is "on their side".

I ask everyone to think very carefully before engaging in any conduct which could inflame the passions of people who might be inclined to attempt violence against whomever the next President turns out to be. Let's all work within the system.

Pax Americana.

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), November 24, 2000.

Interesting reading and thoughts. Tonight, at the dinner table, chubby hubby and I were voicing similiar thoughts. We both wondered when some idiot would take a pot shot at one of the candidates, or supreme court judges or blow up a State or Federal Building. I think its speaking well for the common man that we are having this horrendous debacle of an election and not getting violent about it. Other countries would be having coups of one kind or another with much death and destruction. Thank God we have Saturday Night Live to keep it all in perspective. This too will pass,..... tho' I like so many, am spitting nails most of the time. Maybe we should shoot both candidates and start over?? Taz...who is going to learn to chew and spit now that I have learned to whittle.

-- Taz (Rockingchair@farm.com), November 24, 2000.

Arn't you treading on awfully thin ice legally when you engage in this kind of conversation?

-- JoseMiami (josenmiami@yahoo.com), November 24, 2000.

JoseMiami (josenmiami@yahoo.com),

>Arn't you treading on awfully thin ice legally when you engage in this kind of conversation?

What do you think is legal thin-ice about "this kind of conversation"?

I'm advocating the prevention of violence, not its commission.