After I wrote last week about the probability of each of the members of the Q15 becoming President of theChurch, a few people asked specifically about President Uchtdorf’s chances. And I share their interest. I have found him to be a big breath of fresh air, and I would love it if he did become President.
So what would it take for President Uchtdorf to become President Uchtdorf? Here’s a chart showing a little information for him and all the Q15 members senior to him.
|Quorum member||Rank||Birth year/mo||Age||Prob Uchtdorf outlives|
The probabilities in the last column come from the same analysis I did for last week’s post. For each of the 1000 simulations, I just looked up to see if President Uchtdorf outlived the other Q15 member in question. For example, he outlived President Monson in 843 of the 1000, so that’s 84% (rounded).
One obstacle that might be easy to overlook because he’s been in the Q15 for over a decade, but that the chart makes clear, is that President Uchtdorf is way down the list in seniority. This has happened, of course, because we’re in the middle of a really long period during which no Q15 members have died, so he’s had no opportunity to move up. He would have to outlive the ten men ahead of him to get to the top spot. The age difference between him and most of them is large enough that he’s quite likely to outlive them. But then there’s Elder Holland, who’s two steps ahead of him in seniority and a month younger. The simulation gives President Uchtdorf a 48% probability of outliving Elder Holland, which makes sense given how close they are in age. What this means is that even if all the other nine men on the chart had died, and Elder Holland and President Uchtdorf were one-two in seniority, President Uchtdorf will still have only a 50-50 chance of becoming Church President.
In other words, President Uchtdorf has two hurdles to clear, and for each he has slightly less than a 50% probability. He has a 46% probability of outliving all the other nine men (again, just from looking up and counting scenarios in the simulation). He has a 48% probability of outliving Elder Holland alone. Put them together, and he only has a 32% probability of becoming Church President. (Note that because outliving the other nine and outliving Elder Holland are not independent events, there isn’t a simple calculation that can be done to combine 46% and 48% to arrive at 32%.)
I’ll continue to hope for an Uchtdorf presidency, but I think perhaps a more realistic hope is that whoever becomes Church President next sticks with tradition and retains President Monson’s counselors. I think President Uchtdorf has used the extra influence he has as a member of the First Presidency to address important issues (and to pointedly ignore irrelevant ones), and I’ll hope he gets to continue doing so. And if it turns out that one day he becomes Church President, then I’ll really celebrate!