WASHINGTON (CNN) – If Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin decides to run for the White House in 2012, she'll be bucking history.
Just eight days after Senator John McCain and Palin lost the election to Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden, speculation is swirling around a possible Palin run for the top spot in four years.
But a look back at recent history shows that the track record of vice presidential running mates on the losing ticket who ran for their party's presidential nomination in the next election cycle is not a promising one.
Four years ago, John Edwards was in much the same situation Palin finds herself in right now. Edwards was John Kerry's running mate on the losing ticket in 2004, and officially launched his presidential bid in this campaign in December of 2006 — only to come in second in the Iowa caucuses this January, followed by a third place finish the following week in the New Hampshire primary. The former North Carolina senator withdrew from the race for the White House on January 30.
Go back another four years and it's a similar story. Sen. Joe Lieberman was Al Gore's running mate on the losing ticket in 2000. Lieberman launched his own bid for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, but dropped out on February 3 of that year after losing six straight primaries.
Vice President Dan Quayle and his boss, President George H.W. Bush, went down to defeat in the 1992 election. Quayle raised money and considered runs in 1996 and 2000, though he ultimately never ran in any primaries or caucuses.
Vice President Walter Mondale and his boss, President Jimmy Carter, lost the 1980 election. Mondale ran for the White House in 1984, winning the Democratic presidential nomination, before losing the general election in a landslide to President Ronald Reagan.
Sen. Bob Dole was the vice presidential nominee on the losing Republican ticket in 1976. Dole briefly ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, which Ronald Reagan won, and made a more serious effort in 1988, before losing to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Dole eventually won the GOP nomination in 1996, before losing the general election to President Bill Clinton.
If that's not enough, both 1972 Democratic vice presidential nominee Sargent Shriver and 1968 VP nominee Ed Muskie ran for the top spot in their party four years later. Each lost their nomination battle.
"Since the early 1800's, only one losing vice presidential candidates has ever won their party's nomination four years later - and that person, Walter Mondale, had already served as vice president for four years, giving him an institutional advantage that Palin would lack in 2012 ," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Holland adds that Palin has many advantages that guys like Sargent Shriver and Joe Lieberman lacked: a potential fan base in the millions, the star power that she brought to the McCain ticket, and her gender — now considered a major advantage. Still, “being on the losing ticket has not traditionally been a good place to start from if you want to win your party's nomination four years down the road," adds Holland.
There is one bright spot for Palin when it comes to political history, though it suggests she may want to wait more than four years to run for the White House.
Franklin Roosevelt was the unsuccessful Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1920, won the governorship of New York eight years later, and used that as a springboard to the White House in 1932. FDR remains the only losing vice presidential candidate in history to eventually become president.