Since 1960, only two nominees of the major political parties have lost their home state in a general election. George McGovern lost South Dakota in 1972 to Richard Nixon and Al Gore lost Tennessee in 2000 to George W. Bush.
Clearly, when the people who know the candidate best -- the people in their home state -- will not vote for them to take the top job in Washington the nominee is not likely to be moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
That is why it was so startling for me to realize last week that, according to the latest polls, not one of the candidates vying for the GOP’s 2012 nomination beats President Obama in head-to-head matchups in their home states.
The only person who even comes close is former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. He is tied with Obama on his home turf in Minnesota, according to a SurveyUSA poll from last week.
According to the same poll, the other Minnesotan in the race – Congresswoman Michele Bachmann loses to Obama by 14 points in Minnesota.
Both Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain trail Obama in their home state of Georgia according to Public Policy Polling (PPP). In deep blue Massachusetts, the state’s former Governor Mitt Romney loses to Obama by 20 points according to another PPP poll.
These are not encouraging signs for the declared candidates in the Republican primary contest.
And the outlook does not look much better for those potential candidates still on the sidelines. Namely, Texas Governor Rick Perry, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. All three potential candidates are losing to Obama in their home states.
A PPP poll released last week from that President Obama beats Perry 47% to 45% in Texas. Perry’s record of job creation has been hailed by conservatives as the “Texas Miracle” and provides the main rationale for him to jump into the race. However, the “Texas Miracle” is not all that it is cracked up to be and most Texans know that.
In fact, some facts about the "miracle" might make voters in the Lone Star State wary that Perry will do for the nation what he has done for Texas. Since 2008, wages have increased by a national average of 5% but in Texas, they only grew by an anemic 0.6%. Twenty-three states have lower unemployment rates than Texas. The state also has the highest proportion of people without health insurance – almost one out of every four people in Texas have no insurance.
New Jersey Gov. Christie, a national conservative rock star, is the most interesting case of a possible GOP candidate who gets national attention while the people in his state are expressing reservations. A poll from New Jersey’s Farleigh Dickinson University found Chris Christie losing to Obama 50 percent to 34 percent in the Garden State.
And this was before the governor used his line item veto to strip out spending provisions favored by Democrats in the state budget.
This prompted the Democratic President of the State Senate, Steve Sweeney, to accuse Christie of reneging on his promises and negotiating in bad faith. Sweeney said of Christie “You know who he reminds me of ? Mr. Potter from "It's A Wonderful Life," that mean old bastard who screws everybody.” This is not likely to help Christie’s standing in the Garden State.
And then there is Sarah Palin. She has not yet declared her intentions one way or the other about running for the nomination but a poll from last week – commissioned by a conservative talk radio host found Alaskans favor Obama over Palin by 6 points. Palin resigned as governor of the state half way into her first term in July of 2009.
Presidential candidates often bank on home field advantage in general elections – the ability to carry their home state or even their home region provides a cushion in the Electoral College that gives them a certain amount of credibility.
Historically, running mates have been selected partly for their capacity to deliver their home state, region or at the very least make the ticket competitive in those areas – more than it otherwise would be.
But, this time the calculus may be different. For whomever becomes the eventual 2012 GOP nominee, the home field advantage could very quickly become a disadvantage -- and a humiliating one at that.
Juan Williams is a writer, author and Fox News political analyst. His next book is "Muzzled: The Assault On Honest Debate" (Crown/Random House) which will be released later this month.