Disappointing results in Florida for GOP Sen. Marco Rubio shows just how devastating a home-state loss can be. In fact, only one presidential candidate in the modern primary era has ever won his party’s nomination without the backing of his home state.
And it’s not someone who many politicians want to be next to in the history books: Richard Nixon.
“Nixon strategically decided … to focus his efforts on other primary states,” said Carla Braswell, archivist at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum when asked why Nixon didn’t even appear on the 1968 ballot in California. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan was extremely popular in the state, and he immediately announced his intention to run for president after winning the state’s gubernatorial race, she explained. Nixon did go on to secure his party’s nomination and the presidency later that year.
Every candidate remaining in the 2016 race as of Tuesday morning won when appearing before voters in his or her home state. When Rubio lost Florida Tuesday, he suspended his campaign. Gov. John Kasich won his home state of Ohio, which was his first statewide win in the primary process. It was a critical one because of the party’s winner-take-all delegate rules there.
Donald Trump’s home state of New York will vote on April 19. Trump led in New York by double-digits in a recent poll.
Historically, politicians who have won their parties’ nominations have averaged 73 percent of the primary vote in their home states. Sen. John McCain, Ariz., had the lowest percentage of votes among them — he won only 47 percent of votes in Arizona’s 2008 Republican primary. That same year, President Barack Obama won 65 percent of the vote in Illinois, where he was a sitting senator at the time.