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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Molly Ball of Politico noticed something interesting about the 2012 Republican presidential field: most of them aren’t very popular in their original stomping grounds.

Romney’s not the only presidential hopeful whose home state popularity is lagging. Just about all of the GOP presidential candidates would have a hard time winning their own states if they ended up as the party nominee, which may factor into the thinking among many Republicans that the 2012 field is lackluster.
The phenomenon marks a departure from the campaign days of old when “favorite son” candidates could point to their home-state popularity as a crucial part of their sales pitch.
The 2012 field, by contrast, is largely made up of unfavorite sons.
Tim Pawlenty never received a majority of the vote in Minnesota in his two successful runs for governor. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann almost certainly couldn’t win the state — her high-water mark in her own GOP-friendly district was 53 percent, registered during the Republican landslide year of 2010.
In statewide polls conducted by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, both had higher unfavorable ratings than favorable.
It’s a similar story in Pennsylvania, where voters drummed Rick Santorum out of the Senate by 18 percentage points–he was the rare incumbent to lose by a blowout margin. Newt Gingrich, who has yet to set foot in his campaign’s Georgia headquarters, would lose the state to President Barack Obama, according to one recent poll. Fellow Georgian Herman Cain ran once for statewide office and failed to make it out of a Senate primary. Sarah Palin, once an overwhelmingly popular governor of Alaska, saw her statewide approval decline after the 2008 presidential campaign, then crash after she left office in July 2009.

It’s sometimes said that Republicans think they can’t lose in 2012, particularly if the economy doesn’t significantly improve between now and November of next year. Looking at the shelf-value of their presidential field, they’d better hope that is true.

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