Friday, February 26, 2016

There is no home state advantage

I have said this before, but I do not understand why so many people think that a Presidential candidate should automatically win his or her home state. I have never supported anyone because of where the candidate is from. I can't imagine supporting a politician whom I otherwise would not vote for simply because he or she is from Pennsylvania. I don't know anyone whose political support is so fickle. And yet there is this strong presumption that a candidate should easily win the home state. It was a mark of shame, cited again and again, that Al Gore did not win his home state of Tennessee.

In fact, in recent elections it is quite common for a politician to lose his or her home state. Mitt Romney arguably had four home states, his primary residence in Massachusetts, plus his second and third homes in New Hampshire and California, and Michigan where he grew up and where his father served as governor. He lost all four. His would-be Vice President, Paul Ryan, was from Wisconsin, and the ticket lost that state as well. Back in 2011, when the GOP primary was just getting going, I noticed that, according to early polls, just about all of the potential nominees were projected to lose to Obama in their home state. I noticed a similar (although not nearly as strong) phenomenon in the early polls last year before this current primary got going.

Donald Trump is leading in the Republican primary nationally, so it should not be surprising that he is polling ahead of Rubio in Florida. No Trump minded Floridian is going to vote for Rubio just because Rubio is from Florida too, just as the fact that Rubio spent part of his youth in Nevada didn't help him at all in the recent caucuses.

Home state doesn't matter. The Republicans are not going to win New York in the general election if Trump is the nominee. They won't have a lock on Florida in the general election if Rubio is the nominee. The will win Texas in the general if Cruz is the nominee, but they will also win Texas no matter who is the nominee. The candidate's vice presidential picks are not going to flip any blue state red, or vice-versa. Maybe the home state advantage used to carry some weight (or maybe it has always just been a political myth), but right now it does not. Get over it.

(final link via Memeorandum)