Jul 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Charted: The most common job experience for U.S. presidents

Number of U.S. presidents who held select job titles before taking office
Data: Statista. Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

18 U.S. presidents were governors before ascending to the nation's highest office, including nine who were elected while still serving as governor, according to data from Statista and Rutgers University.

Why it matters: Reports over the past week have added new fuel to speculation that at least three high-profile governors — Republicans Ron DeSantis in Florida and Glenn Youngkin in Virginia as well as Democrat Gavin Newsom in California — could be scoping out 2024 presidential runs.

Between the lines: Of the governors who became president, four were governors of New York, three from Virginia and two each from Ohio and Tennessee, according to Rutgers.

By the numbers: A majority of U.S. presidents have had military or legal experience before taking office, according to Statista.

  • Three held the highest position in the U.S. military — including George Washington, who was commander in chief of the Continental Army during the Revolution.
  • Other presidents are famous for less orthodox career paths: Ronald Reagan was an actor; Jimmy Carter started out as a peanut farmer and Donald Trump was a reality TV host.
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