I have been watching the new season of House of Cards. At one point,

after his father's picture with a KKK member is shown, the polls show that he might lose his home state.

It got me thinking, has a candidate ever lost his home state and then went on to win his party's primaries and eventually become president? I feel like losing his home state would significantly hurt one's credibility (even your own people have lost confidence in you).

4 Answers 4


Yes. James K Polk, from North Carolina, lost his home state but won the election of 1844. He was also the only president to have served as Speaker of the House.

For other interesting (and/or ridiculous) electoral firsts, see xkcd's Electoral Precedent.

  • haha thanks! I love that website. Is he the only one who did? the comic only specifies that he was the first one to do so
    – solalito
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 12:45
  • I don't know if there have been others, but 1 is enough to say that it has happened.
    – yoozer8
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 14:14

Donald Trump. Hillary won NY state 60/40. Worse, Trump only managed to win 9% of his own home boro of Manhattan. NYC has nearly 40 years of experience with this guy


In addition to Polk in 1844:

  • Woodrow Wilson lost New Jersey in 1916 but won.

But does this really answer your question? You said,

It got me thinking, has a candidate ever lost his home state and then went on to win his party's primaries and eventually become president?

This implies to me that you are talking about losing the home state in the primaries rather than the general election. In 1844, they didn't even have primaries, just conventions. 1912 was the first election where there was a presidential primary and that just in twelve states. It wasn't until 1972 that primaries became the norm.

And if that's the case, then the most recent winner is Richard Nixon. He lost California in 1968 to Ronald Reagan but won the nomination and the general election. Nixon won nine of the twelve Republican primaries that year, but not his home state of California.

There may be others in the 1912-1964 period, but I didn't find an easy to browse source for older elections. Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama all carried their respective home states when they won.

  • 3
    Re the 1968 Nixon/Reagan primary, it's worth noting that California was considered the "home state" for both of those candidates. Doesn't change the validity of it, but it would've been a home state loss either way.
    – Geobits
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 3:41

It's happened w/ 2 presidents, or w/ 6 presidents depending on if you consider their home state to be where they were born in, or where their residence is.

This link explains it all pretty well.


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