ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Since John McCain announced Friday that first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would be his running mate, Democrats have been quick to point out that the 44-year-old governor could soon be just "a heartbeat away from the presidency." The veiled reference to McCain's advanced age is hard to miss.
It's a macabre point to raise on the night when Palin will speak to the convention here -- but a look at the actuarial tables insurance companies use to evaluate customers shows that it's not an irrelevant one. According to these statistics, there is a roughly 1 in 3 chance that a 72-year-old man will not reach the age of 80, which is how old McCain would be at the end of a second presidential term. And that doesn't factor in individual medical history, such as McCain's battles with potentially lethal skin cancer.
"For a man, that's above the expected lifetime at the present," said Michael Powers, a professor of risk management and insurance at Temple University's Fox School of Business.