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Daughters Help Win the White House

Sons may continue the family name, but history suggests they’re not a good path to the White House.

Families take center stage during presidential elections. What kind of family best connects with the public? Daughters seem to be an advantage. Starting with Lyndon Johnson’s victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964, only two presidents—Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush—have won with more sons than daughters, and both were one-term presidents.

Four of the last seven elected presidents have had just one or two children. The exceptions with large families were Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bush 41.

Barack Obama can take heart that his family—wife Michelle and two daughters, Malia Ann and Sasha—represents a traditional presidential nuclear family. John McCain is father to seven children from four different sets of parents: four sons and three daughters.

This article first appeared in the November 2008 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.  

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