POLITICS
08/19/2013 05:35 pm ET Updated Nov 11, 2013

If Hillary Clinton Dies Soon, Her 2016 Candidacy May Hit A Snag, Statistics Say

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There are still well over 1,100 days until the next presidential election day. But it's August and everyone is bored! And people are even now going to Iowa, which is a distant early warning that presidential election doings are afoot. And so, all of this combined Monday, in The New Republic's Nate Cohn's head, and so he is out with an actuarial analysis of the upcoming election. The upshot: what if Hillary Clinton dies between now and 2016? Because she could die. She also might not die. But she totally could!

And if she shuffles off this mortal coil, how will her campaign "develop a message" around her demise, and "counter the narrative" of her mouldering corpse? According to Cohn, Hillary's "biggest challenge might just be surviving to November 2016," so it would be irresponsible not to speculate!

According to actuarial data from the Centers for Disease Control, 4 percent of 65-year-old white women will die before November 2016. Now, Hillary Clinton isn’t the average 65-year-old white woman: She’s probably healthier than most, she’s rich, and she will have access to the best medical care. Her mother lived to age 92 (a 65-year-old white woman lives to a median age of 85 or 86). All of those factors improve her odds. Indeed, the University of Pennsylvania's life expectancy calculator suggests Clinton's life expectancy is more than 94 years, with a median of 96. According to my back of the envelope calculation, a 65-year-old white woman expected to live to 96 has a 99.2 percent chance of surviving the Iowa caucuses and a 98.9 percent chance of surviving the 2016 presidential election.

So it's too close to call? Basically?

Cohn goes on to demonstrate, using charts, that the longer one lives, the more likely it becomes that you will die. Also, "white female senators, cabinet secretaries, and first ladies" tend to live longer than ordinary white women, because they are famous and affluent and have access to better health care and don't have to work in Amazon Fulfillment Centers, breaking their bodies and spirits to earn a pittance. But let's get granular!

A 65-year-old white woman has the same odds of dying the following year as a 60-year-old white male. That puts her in roughly the same place as George H.W. Bush when he sought the presidency. She probably has a better chance than Ronald Reagan did. It would seem to give her much better odds than vice president Joe Biden, who’s a male and already older: 8 percent of 69-year-old white males will die before the 2016 presidential election.

Also, there are some younger Republicans -- like Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker -- who could run who may have slightly better odds of surviving than Clinton's 98.9 percent chance, though New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been battling obesity, which tends to limit your ability to live a long time. Cohn gives Christie only a 96.6 chance of living to the 2016 election, whereas "Paul, Bush, and Walker probably have a 99-plus percent chance of surviving till 2016."

Sometimes I find myself hoping that I won't live to see 2016, you know?

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