It's hard to believe how much excitement is built up for each candidate, only to see the losers shuffle off again into obscurity. Here, we'll jolt your memory with a list of also-rans from elections past, and try to ferret out what became of them. We won't bother with the very obvious ones are – you don't need us to tell you what Al Gore is doing, do you? – but the ones who are question marks may prove interesting.
John Kerry, Democrat, 2004 – After conceding the election to George W. Bush before the last votes were even counted, Kerry concluded the most lackluster campaign in recent memory by returning to his Senate duties, with one last assurance to his supporters that he'd fight the good fight. In January 2013, Kerry was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then confirmed by the U.S. Senate, assuming the office on February 1, 2013.
Ross Perot, Reform party, 1996 – If there was ever a wild card candidate, this one was it. Having more Libertarian views than anything else, and making a huge amount of noise in the news media, Perot stormed the 1996 Presidential election with some much-needed comic relief in what would have been a dry-as-sand race without him. He has practically gone into hiding since then. He's abandoned the Reform party, which he once manipulated, and is presumably doing something in the business sector. Whenever a newspaper reporter spots him in public and interviews him, he usually remains on the subject of his business career and refuses to comment on anything else. His sole emergence from political exile was to support technology advancement in education in Texas in 2005, which isn't surprising since he made his fortune with technology companies in Texas.
Michael Dukakis, Democrat, 1988 – Boy, did he ever lose. George Bush, Sr., won this election hands down, and Dukakis couldn't seem to get a break any which-way. After losing the Presidency to Bush by a 4-to-1 margin in electoral votes, he served out his last two years as Governor of Massachusetts under the public and media spotlight which scrutinized and criticized his every move. He stepped down from politics altogether in 1990 and joined the board of – of all things – Amtrack, right at a time when trains were losing popularity and a recession was looming. He later became a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Massachusetts, and continues to this day with a mostly scholarly career with the occasional dabble in grassroots campaigning.
Walter Mondale, Democrat, 1984 – Against the unshakable might that was the incumbent Reagan administration, there was no possibility of even standing a chance. But somebody had to run, just to say that we had an election anyway. After 1984 and his resultant trampling, Mondale brushed the elephant footprints off his suit and returned to the private sector practicing law. In 1993 he was appointed to U.S. Ambassador to Japan under the Clinton administration. In 2002 he was put on the ballot to replace another Senate candidate who had died in a plane crash, and he gave the race his best, roaring try and finished very close, but lost. He stated "At the end of what will be my last campaign, I want to say to Minnesota, you always treated me well, you always listened to me." Retired, he lives today near the Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, where he is frequently seen walking his dogs and heard to quote lines from the comic skits of Monty Python, of which he is a fan.
Eugene McCarthy, Independent, 1976 – Wedged into the race between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, the one time that an Independent candidate would have stood a chance, McCarthy managed to get less than one-percent of the popular vote. This U.S. Senator from Minnesota – not at all to be confused with Joseph McCarthy, the Senator from Wisconsin for whom McCarthyism is named – would make a total of five runs for Presidency throughout the years. He also continued to write his books, of which he had produced 17, before passing away on December 10, 2005, at the age of 89.