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Romney Lowers Bar for Presumptive GOP Nominees in Indiana

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Romney is the only presumptive Republican presidential nominee to fail to win two-thirds of the vote in the Hoosier State over the last 56 years

mittromney11.jpgWhile Mitt Romney won the Indiana Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, his performance once again failed to insulate his campaign from questions about his ability to rally the GOP base this cycle.

With now only one other active candidate in the race - Ron Paul - Romney still failed to capture two-thirds of the vote in what amounts to the least impressive victory in the Hoosier state for a presumptive GOP nominee over the last 50+ years.

A Smart Politics review of Indiana Republican presidential primary data finds that the 64.7 percent showing by Mitt Romney on Tuesday is lowest winning percentage for a presumptive GOP nominee over the last 15 primaries conducted since 1956, with the exception of the Reagan-Ford showdown that lasted to the convention.

Romney fell more than 10 points shy of John McCain's 77.6 percent mark in 2008 and more than 15 points short of George W. Bush's 81.2 percent in 2000.

Aside from Ronald Reagan's win with 51.3 percent against Gerald Ford in 1976 - in which there was no decisive frontrunner or presumptive nominee at the time of the Indiana primary - the previous low water mark for a winner in Indiana over the last 50 years was Barry Goldwater's 67.0 percent in 1964 when he defeated former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen.

Excluding the Reagan/Ford matchup and the four cycles in which candidates ran unopposed (1968, 1972, 1984, 2004), the average winning percentage for presumptive Republican nominees in Indiana is 80.2 percent, or 16.5 percentage points higher than Romney.

Ron Paul finished second on Tuesday with 15.5 percent which doubled his 7.7 percent showing in 2008.

Ex-candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich finished in third and fourth place with 13.3 percent and 6.4 percent of the vote respectively.

The Indiana primary has been conducted between in the first eight days of May throughout this 50+ year period.

On Tuesday Romney also had the third lowest GOP winning percentage in the post-1972 modern primary era in both North Carolina and West Virginia.

Indiana Presidential Republican Primary Winners, 1956-2012

Year
Winner
%
2nd place
%
MoV
2012
Mitt Romney
64.7
Ron Paul
15.6
49.1
2008
John McCain
77.6
Mike Huckabee
10.0
67.6
2004
George W. Bush
100.0
(unopposed)
0.0
100.0
2000
George W. Bush
81.2
John McCain
18.8
62.4
1996
Bob Dole
70.8
Pat Buchanan
19.4
51.4
1992
George H. W. Bush
80.1
Pat Buchanan
19.9
60.2
1988
George H. W. Bush
80.4
Bob Dole
9.8
70.6
1984
Ronald Reagan
100.0
(unopposed)
0.0
100.0
1980
Ronald Reagan
73.3
George H.W. Bush
16.4
56.9
1976
Ronald Reagan
51.3
Gerald Ford
48.7
2.6
1972
Richard Nixon
100.0
(unopposed)
0.0
100.0
1968
Richard Nixon
100.0
(unopposed)
0.0
100.0
1964
Barry Goldwater
67.0
Harold Stassen
26.8
40.2
1960
Richard Nixon
95.4
Frank Beckwith
4.6
90.8
1956
Dwight Eisenhower
96.4
Lawrence Daly
3.7
92.7
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

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