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Gingrich Records Weakest GOP Home State Victory in Modern History

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Gingrich ties John McCain for the second lowest home state tally for a major GOP presidential candidate since 1972, besting only Pat Robertson

newtgingrich12.jpgDuring Newt Gingrich's Tuesday night pep talk to his supporters, the former House Speaker bragged about his home state victory by explaining how the media called his win in Georgia as the first call of the evening, shortly after the polls closed.

However, in addition to the fact that only two other Super Tuesday states closed at the 7 pm EST hour, Gingrich's victory - while a necessary condition to keep him in the race - was one of the least impressive home state presidential primary victories in modern political history.

A Smart Politics review of presidential primary contests finds that Newt Gingrich's 47.2 percent performance in Georgia was tied for the second lowest support for a Republican presidential candidate in his home state since the 1972 cycle, and the lowest number for a winning candidate.

Aside from presidents running without opposition, there have been 16 GOP candidates over the last 40 years who have carried at least one state during the primary season - and still been active in the race when their home state primary or caucus came up on the calendar.

(Note: Three additional Republican candidates who won at least one state did not participate in their state's presidential preference contest - all in 1996. During that cycle, Pat Buchanan dropped out of the presidential race in March before the Virginia caucuses were completed, Steve Forbes exited the race before New Jersey held its primary, and Kansas opted not to hold their caucuses as a cost-saving measure when it became clear eventual home-state nominee Bob Dole was well on the path to victory).

Gingrich - who admittedly won Georgia on Super Tuesday by a comfortable margin of 21.3 points over Mitt Romney - fared quite poorly when stacked up against the record of most Republican White House hopefuls over the last 11 cycles.

Only one such Republican candidate received a lower vote total in his home state - Pat Robertson in 1988.

During that cycle, Robertson won just 13.7 percent of the vote in his native Virginia - some 39.5 points behind George H.W. Bush - and dropped out of the race shortly thereafter. (Robertson actually performed better in Bush's home state of Texas, winning 15.3 percent of the vote there).

Gingrich is now tied just ahead of Robertson with John McCain - who also registered 47.2 percent in his 2008 victory over Mitt Romney in Arizona.

The only other notable Republican presidential candidate in the last 40 years who failed to win a majority of the vote in his home state was George H.W. Bush in 1980.

While Bush registered just above Gingrich and McCain at 47.5 percent, he actually failed to carry his home state of Texas that cycle - losing by 3.4 points to eventual GOP nominee Ronald Reagan.

Overall, the average Republican White House hopeful has averaged 63.6 percent of the vote in their home state since 1972 - some 16.4 points better than Gingrich.

When also taking into account Democratic presidential candidates, Gingrich's 47.2 percent in Georgia ranks just 42nd best out of the 49 candidates who carried at least one state and participated in their home state contest since 1972.

Two of these candidates, Paul Simon and Jesse Jackson, hailed from the same home state in 1984 (Illinois).

Presuming he remains in the race, Rick Santorum will get his home state test in Pennsylvania on April 24th.

Home State Vote for Major Republican Presidential Candidates, 1972-2012

Year
Candidate
State
Percent
MoV
1988
Bob Dole
Kansas
95.8
94.3
1972
Richard Nixon
California
90.0
80.0
2000
George W. Bush
Texas
87.5
80.4
1980
Ronald Reagan
California
80.3
66.6
2012
Mitt Romney
Massachusetts
72.1
60.0
1992
George H.W. Bush
Texas
69.8
45.9
1976
Ronald Reagan
California
65.5
31.0
1976
Gerald Ford
Michigan
64.9
30.7
1988
George H.W. Bush
Texas
63.9
48.6
2008
Mike Huckabee
Arkansas
60.5
40.2
2000
John McCain
Arizona
60.0
24.4
2008
Mitt Romney
Massachusetts
51.1
10.2
1980
George H.W. Bush
Texas
47.5
-3.4
2008
John McCain
Arizona
47.2
12.6
2012
Newt Gingrich
Georgia
47.2
21.3
1988
Pat Robertson
Virginia
13.7
-39.5
Excludes presidents who ran unchallenged (e.g. Ronald Reagan in 1984, George W. Bush in 2004), minor candidates who failed to carry a single state, and candidates who carried at least one state but dropped out of the race before their home state contest was held. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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5 Comments


  • What does "MoV" mean? Please do not assume all who read know acronyms, codes, etc. Please add what that means.
    Define the acronym letters (CD=Compact Disc, etc), and define it - what does it mean in function, etc.

  • margin of victory

  • Republican John Anderson (then a serious candidate) carried only 36% of the vote in Illinois in 1980. This information is not included above. Is this an oversight?

  • > Republican John Anderson (then a serious candidate) carried only 36% of the vote in
    > Illinois in 1980. This information is not included above. Is this an oversight?

    No - it's not an oversight. As detailed above, this report is only covering the GOP candidates who carried at least one state in the primaries & caucuses.

  • tanks for informaition..
    this article best because
    Gingrich - who admittedly won Georgia on Super Tuesday by a comfortable margin of 21.3 points over Mitt Romney - fared quite poorly when stacked up against the record of most Republican White House hopefuls over the last 11 cycles.

    Only one such Republican candidate received a lower vote total in his home state - Pat Robertson in 1988.

    During that cycle, Robertson won just 13.7 percent of the vote in his native Virginia - some 39.5 points behind George H.W. Bush - and dropped out of the race shortly thereafter. (Robertson actually performed better in Bush's home state of Texas, winning 15.3 percent of the vote there).

    Gingrich is now tied just ahead of Robertson with John McCain - who also registered 47.2 percent in his 2008 victory over Mitt Romney in Arizona.

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

    Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

    Political Crumbs

    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    An Idaho Six Pack

    Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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