STUMP » Articles » Presidential Mortality: 2020 Update -- These Candidates are Old » 30 January 2020, 18:12

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Presidential Mortality: 2020 Update -- These Candidates are Old  


30 January 2020, 18:12

I last updated this in 2019. So why not do a new calculation, now that we’ve got a slate of old, white men (and an old, white woman, and some younger folks who we don’t really care about survivability for).

Prior posts of similar type:

Just as in 2019, I will be dropping my own spreadsheets, and using the Longevity Illustrator, and for candidates, I will look sat the Democratic candidates, starting with the oldest and working to younger candidates til the numbers stop being interesting.

I will decide what I consider interesting numbers.


So, I start with Bernie Sanders, 78 years old. For my baseline, I’m going to say he has average health (yes, I know he had a heart attack, and we’ll test that in a moment).

Here are results — first, to specific ages:

Age Survival Probability
80 89%
85 66%
90 38%
95 15%
100 4%

Now, specific percentiles:

Percentiles Number of Years
90% 2
75% 5
50% 9
25% 14
10% 28

Now, last year, I decided there was no reason to assume poor health. As noted, he had had a heart attack. That could be considered average health for a 78-year-old, I suppose, but I don’t.

Let’s test out poor health.

Age Survival Probability
80 88%
85 54%
90 25%
95 8%

Now, specific percentiles:

Percentiles Number of Years
90% 1
75% 3
50% 7
25% 12
10% 16

So…. yeah. The chances of Bernie not making it through one term (forget about two) is pretty high.


The numbers are not going to be very different for a year younger.

So to make it interesting, let’s say the December doctor’s report indicated excellent health for Biden. Bloomberg also got an excellent bill of health.

Just given what I know about these guys, I credit that Bloomberg is in excellent health compared to Biden.

So here are the results for a 77-year-old male in excellent health:

Age Survival Probability
80 91%
85 71%
90 46%
95 22%

Now, specific percentiles:

Percentiles Number of Years
90% 3
75% 7
50% 12
25% 17
10% 21

Look, even with excellent health, we’re not expecting any of these old men to run in 2024, no matter what. This is it for them all, and any of them have non-trivial probabilities of not making it to that year whether they’re President or not.

I could put in Trump here, but I don’t think most people are too concerned, one way or other, about him getting through a second term. I have no clue as to the state of his health, but he certainly seems to have a lot of energy.


Warren is the youngest of the old crew, and yes, Boomers, 70 years old is old. She’s also an actual Boomer, unlike the old guys.

I assume her health is excellent. Unlike the old guys, I have no reason to believe she has any health impairments.

The closest age to her birthday (how the tool works) puts her at 71 years, but again, it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference.

Age Survival Probability
75 96%
80 87%
85 73%
90 53%
95 30%

Now, specific percentiles:

Percentiles Number of Years
90% 7
75% 13
50% 19
25% 25
10% 29

So, whether Warren wins or loses, she definitely has a chance of running again in 2024.

Given these probabilities, though, it gets really boring for all the younger candidates. They have multiple bites at the apple in the future, should they want to.

How old was Biden when he first ran for President? I mean, that was over 30 years ago….


Back in 2019, I looked at possible Pres-VP pair-ups, but I’m not going down that silliness route right now. If any of these old folks get the Democratic nod, my assumption is they’ll pick much younger people for the VP slot.

But now I’ll plug the Longevity Illustrator again.

It’s a good idea to figure out your potential retirement horizon, even if you’re not running for the Presidency.

And as a Gen Xer, I do wonder when we will ever get a Gen X President. Obama was close, but not quite.

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