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Could Romney Become 1st President Whose Party Fails to Win a US House Seat in His Home State?

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The winning presidential candidate's party has won 64 percent of its nominee's home state's U.S. House seats throughout history; Republicans in Massachusetts: currently 0 percent

mittromney11.jpgWhile Mitt Romney's road to become the (likely) presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 2012 may have been rocky at times, he has - for a long stretch of the campaign - been considered the "inevitable" nominee.

If the remaining few months play out as expected and Romney does secure the nomination, he will have, at least in one respect, taken a historically unconventional path.

And if Romney wins the White House this November - he may accomplish something never achieved by any president before him.

A Smart Politics review of U.S. election data finds that Mitt Romney could become the first candidate in history to win the presidency without a single U.S. House candidate from his own party getting elected down the ballot in his home state.

Of course, Romney is already in a unique situation in that he would likely be an underdog to even win his home state, and, if he fails to do so, would become just the third such president joining James Polk of Tennessee in 1844 (losing by 0.1 points) and Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey in 1916 (losing by 11.7 points).

A Romney nomination would also make him the first major party nominee in 116 years to come from a state whose U.S. House delegation is comprised solely of representatives from a party other than his own at the time of his nomination.

The 10-member Massachusetts delegation is made up entirely of Democrats, and the GOP has not won a seat from the Bay State since the Republican Revolution of 1994.

The last time a candidate was nominated for president from a state with no U.S. House members of his own party was in 1896 when Democrats nominated Nebraskan William Jennings Bryan and its delegation was comprised of one Republican and one Populist. (Though, by 1896, the Democratic Party and Bryan were addressing Populist policies).

Of course, Bryan lost to William McKinley that year so one has to go back almost another 50 years to the 1840s to find a candidate who actually won the presidency under such a scenario.

The last (and only) presidential candidate to win election from a state without a sitting member in the U.S. House from his own party was Whig Zachary Taylor of Louisiana in 1848.

Taylor, however, was able to help move the needle slightly in his state in that election, changing his Whig state delegation's 0-4 deficit at the time of his election to the White House to 1-3 afterwards with the election of Representative Charles Conrad that year.

Would a Romney win in November do the same for Republicans in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts will lose one seat in 2012 due to reapportionment, and the prospects for a GOP pick-up in any of the nine districts are dim - with the state's Republican Party owning the second longest dry spell in the nation at 88 seats and counting since the Election of 1996.

Only California - at 200 seats dating back to 1998 - has a longer Republican pick-up drought.

Winning presidential candidates have been somewhat successful throughout history in giving a boost to their U.S. House candidates down the ballot.

Overall, the president's party held 59.8 percent of his home state U.S. House seats before the election and 63.8 percent thereafter.

The winning presidential candidate has seen his party's hold on his home state's U.S. House delegation increase in 27 elections, remain the same in 14, and decrease in 14.

Home State U.S. House Delegation by Winning Presidential Candidates

Status
Before
After
% Before
% After
Same party
731
794
59.8
63.8
Other party
492
450
40.2
36.2
Note: Column sums for "Before" and "After" are not equal due to reapportionment changes in presidential election years ending in '2.' Table compiled by Smart Politics.

Harry Truman owns the best such mark, seeing the Democratic Party in Missouri increase its percentage of seats from 31 percent (4 of 13 seats) before his election in 1948 to 92 percent (12 of 13) thereafter.

Other presidents giving their party's U.S. House delegation a big boost down the ticket include:

· Republican Abraham Lincoln of Illinois in 1864: From 5 of 14 seats (36 percent) to 11 of 14 (79 percent).

· Republican Warren Harding of Ohio in 1920: From 14 of 22 seats (64 percent) to a clean sweep of all 22 seats (100 percent).

· Democrat James Buchanan of Pennsylvania in 1856: From 7 of 25 seats (28 percent) to 15 of 25 seats (60 percent).

· Republican James Garfield of Ohio in 1800: From 9 of 20 seats (45 percent) to 15 of 20 seats (75 percent).

On the other side of the spectrum, the biggest loser was Republican Benjamin Harrison in 1888, whose Indiana GOP U.S. House delegation decreased from 7 of 13 seats (54 percent) to just 3 of 13 (23 percent) when he defeated incumbent Grover Cleveland.

Also losing four seats from their party's delegations were Democrat-Republican James Madison of Virginia in 1808, Republican Ulysses Grant of Ohio in 1868, Democrat Grover Cleveland of New York in 1884, and Republican William McKinley of Ohio in 1896.

U.S. House Delegation Margin of Winning Presidential Candidates Party Before and After Election, 1792-2008

Year
President
Party
State
Before
After
% Before
% After
Change
2008
Obama
DEM
IL
11-8
12-7
57.9
63.2
+5.3
2004
Bush
GOP
TX
15-17
21-11
46.9
65.6
+18.8
2000
Bush
GOP
TX
13-17
13-17
43.3
43.3
0.0
1996
Clinton
DEM
AR
2-2
2-2
50.0
50.0
0.0
1992
Clinton
DEM
AR
3-1
2-2
75.0
50.0
-25.0
1988
Bush
GOP
TX
10-17
8-19
37.0
29.6
-7.4
1984
Reagan
GOP
CA
17-28
18-27
37.8
40.0
+2.2
1980
Reagan
GOP
CA
18-25
21-22
41.9
48.8
+7.0
1976
Carter
DEM
GA
10-0
10-0
100.0
100.0
0.0
1972
Nixon
GOP
CA
18-20
20-23
47.4
46.5
-0.9
1968
Nixon
GOP
CA
17-21
17-21
44.7
44.7
0.0
1964
L. Johnson
DEM
TX
21-2
23-0
91.3
100.0
+8.7
1960
Kennedy
DEM
MA
8-6
8-6
57.1
57.1
0.0
1956
Eisenhower
GOP
PA
16-14
17-13
53.3
56.7
+3.3
1952
Eisenhower
GOP
PA
20-13
19-11
60.6
63.3
+2.7
1948
Truman
DEM
MO
4-9
12-1
30.8
92.3
+61.5
1944
F. Roosevelt
DEM
NY
23-22
22-23
51.1
48.9
-2.2
1940
F. Roosevelt
DEM
NY
25-20
25-20
55.6
55.6
0.0
1936
F. Roosevelt
DEM
NY
29-16
29-16
64.4
64.4
0.0
1932
F. Roosevelt
DEM
NY
23-20
29-16
53.5
64.4
+11.0
1928
Hoover
GOP
IA
11-0
11-0
100.0
100.0
0.0
1924
Coolidge
GOP
MA
13-3
13-3
81.3
81.3
0.0
1920
Harding
GOP
OH
14-8
22-0
63.6
100.0
+36.4
1916
Wilson*
DEM
NJ
4-8
3-9
33.3
25.0
-8.3
1912
Wilson
DEM
NJ
7-3
11-1
70.0
91.7
+21.7
1908
Taft
GOP
OH
16-5
13-8
76.2
61.9
-14.3
1904
T. Roosevelt
GOP
NY
20-17
26-11
54.1
70.3
+16.2
1900
McKinley
GOP
OH
15-6
17-4
71.4
81.0
+9.5
1896
McKinley
GOP
OH
19-2
15-6
90.5
71.4
-19.0
1892
Cleveland
DEM
NY
23-11
20-14
67.6
58.8
-8.8
1888
B. Harrison
GOP
IN
7-6
3-10
53.8
23.1
-30.8
1884
Cleveland
DEM
NY
21-13
17-17
61.8
50.0
-11.8
1880
Garfield
GOP
OH
9-11
15-5
45.0
75.0
+30.0
1876
Hayes
GOP
OH
7-13
12-8
35.0
60.0
+25.0
1872
Grant
GOP
OH
13-6
14-6
68.4
70.0
+1.6
1868
Grant
GOP
OH
17-2
13-6
89.5
68.4
-21.1
1864
Lincoln
GOP
IL
5-9
11-3
35.7
78.6
+42.9
1860
Lincoln
GOP
IL
4-5
4-5
44.4
44.4
0.0
1856
Buchanan
DEM
PA
7-18
15-10
28.0
60.0
+32.0
1852
Pierce
DEM
NH
3-1
2-2
75.0
50.0
-25.0
1848
Taylor
Whig
LA
0-4
1-3
0.0
25.0
+25.0
1844
Polk*
DEM
TN
6-5
6-5
54.5
54.5
0.0
1840
W.H. Harrison
Whig
OH
8-11
12-7
42.1
63.2
+21.1
1836
Van Buren
DEM
NY
31-9
30-10
77.5
75.0
-2.5
1832
Jackson
DEM
TN
8-1
12-1
88.9
92.3
+3.4
1828
Jackson
DEM
TN
8-1
8-1
88.9
88.9
0.0
1824
J.Q. Adams
Dem-Rep
MA
12-1**
12-1
92.3
92.3
0.0
1820
Monroe
Dem-Rep
VA
21-2
21-2
91.3
91.3
0.0
1816
Monroe
Dem-Rep
VA
19-4
20-3
82.6
87.0
+4.3
1812
Madison
Dem-Rep
VA
16-6
17-6
72.7
73.9
+1.2
1808
Madison
Dem-Rep
VA
20-2
16-6
90.9
72.7
-18.2
1804
Jefferson
Dem-Rep
VA
19-3
21-1
86.4
95.5
+9.1
1800
Jefferson
Dem-Rep
VA
14-5
18-1
73.7
94.7
+21.1
1796
J. Adams
Federalist
MA
9-5
11-3
64.3
78.6
+14.3
1792
Washington
No party
VA
2-8
4-15
20.0
21.1
+1.1
* Indicates a presidential candidate who lost his home state. ** Includes Adams-Clay federalists and Adams-Clay Democratic-Republicans. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

As for the GOP's prospects in Massachusetts this November, the Party has its eye on the 6th CD seat held by eight-term Democrat John Tierney.

Barney Frank from the state's 4th CD and John Olver from the 1st (redistricted into the 2nd) have announced they will not run for reelection this fall.

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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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