Nikki Haley just got trounced in her home state. Here's what happened to 8 other politicians after similar defeats.

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  • Nikki Haley isn't the first presidential hopeful to lose her home state.

  • Recent candidates, including Sens. Marco Rubio and Elizabeth Warren, suffered similar fates.

  • Not everyone who has such a loss was able to restart their career after.

You can't always go home.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley learned this the hard way after a drubbing in the South Carolina GOP presidential primary.

This doesn't have to be the end. While some former presidential hopefuls have dropped out before suffering similar fates, there are a handful who took the negative headlines and pressed on with their careers. One, George H.W. Bush, lost his adopted home state of Texas only to later win the presidency itself. Based on both sides' recent comments, though, it appears extremely unlikely that Haley will join Trump on the ticket.

Still, Haley vowed earlier this week that she would continue on no matter what.

Even Trump knows some of her pain, though he at least got to be a major party nominee before suffering such a defeat. As a native New Yorker, Trump lost the Empire State in both 2016 and 2020. Many unsuccessful major party nominees, including Sen. Mitt Romney, have lost either their home state, their current state, or both. Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota stands alone in the modern era. Amid a historic 1972 thumping, McGovern carried just Washington DC and Massachusetts.

But for our purposes, we're just interested in presidential primary home-state defeats. The Washington Post compiled a list of such failures since 1980, pointing out just how devastating such losses were to the campaigns.

Here's a look at the future Haley may find after the presidential trail.

George H.W. Bush

George H.W Bush
Former CIA Director George H.W. Bush speaks during his 1980 GOP presidential campaign.AP

Year: 1980

Context: At the time, Bush had compiled a lengthy resume. He had already served two terms in Congress, ambassador to the United Nations under President Richard Nixon, led the Republican Party, and been CIA Director under President Gerald Ford.

The future president began the 1980 primary and caucus season with a shocking victory in Iowa, narrowly edging former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, who had his teeth in the entertainment industry as a sports broadcaster in the state. Bush's momentum didn't last long. Reagan started rattling off wins and accruing delegates across the South and Midwest. A New York Times article wasn't overly harsh on Bush's loss in the state his son George W. would one day lead, pointing out that he performed well in the Houston area he represented in Congress. (Bush also won his actual birth state of Massachusetts and Connecticut, where he grew up, during the 1980 cycle.)

Still less than a month after the Texas contest, Bush was out of the race. His eventual consolation prize was the vice presidency. He remains the most recent vice president to immediately replace the president they served under.

John Anderson

John B. Anderson
Rep. John Anderson of Illinois pauses during a news conference amid his 1980 presidential campaign that began as a bid for the GOP nomination before he pivoted to an independent campaign.Ira Schwarz/AP

Year: 1980

Context: Anderson, a long-time Illinois congressman, was regarded as a more moderate candidate in the 1980 field. He narrowly lost to Bush in Massachusetts and Reagan in Vermont early in the process. Anderson entered the Illinois primary with some momentum over Reagan, who had also been born in the state but who had established his political career in faraway California.

Reagan won and just over a month later Anderson withdrew from the contest to run as an independent.

Anderson spent the years after the race as a visiting professor at universities across the nation, worked with various nonprofits, and stayed involved in third-party politics.

Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson
Televangelist Pat Robertson speaks outside his Virginia home as he announces the end of his 1988 presidential campaign.Steve Helber/AP

Year: 1988

Roberston had established significant ties to the then-growing Christian right as a televangelist and founder of a Virginia private Christian college. He entered the 1988 primaries and caucuses with strong second-place finishes in Iowa and Minnesota, but his early momentum soon vanished.

The Virginia contest technically didn't matter, delegates were awarded via caucuses, but Robertson fell to third in the beauty contest to Bush and Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas. Unlike others on the list, Robertson stuck it out longer. His supporters made a shrewd move that powered him to a Washington caucuses win on Super Tuesday, the same night of the Virginia primary. In mid-May with few contests left, he endorsed Bush.

After the race, Roberston returned to the Christian Broadcasting Network and stayed engaged with the religious right. He is credited for helping Newt Gingrich and House Republicans flip the chamber in 1994, ending the Democrats' decades-long hold on power.

Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown
Former California Gov. Jerry Brown waives to the crowd at the 1992 California Democratic Party convention. Brown would go on to lose his home state to future President Bill Clinton.AP

Year: 1992

Few people are more synonymous with California then-former Gov. Jerry Brown, the longest-serving governor in the state's history. As a fresh-faced governor, Brown notched a handful of late victories to cut into then-former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter. Brown's win in his home state was one of the highlights of the race. A second challenge of then-President Carter went virtually nowhere in 1980.

Brown launched his third presidential campaign in 1992, though he quickly fell behind then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. Brown faced considerable pressure to drop out as it became clear Clinton would clinch the nomination. Instead, Brown remained in the race through the end. Clinton campaigned hard in California, ultimately winning the state and sewing up the nomination.

Brown, who only withdrew during the Democratic National Convention, would go on to relaunch his political career as Mayor of Oakland. He later became the state's attorney general and finally returned to the governor's mansion.

Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, speaks during his 2004 presidential campaign. Kucinich stayed in the race despite never winning a state.Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

Year: 2004

Kucinich had established himself after decades in Congress and a stint as mayor of Cincinnati. A staunch liberal, he supported universal health care, an end to the Iraq War, and marriage equality, many positions that were still well out of the Democratic Party's mainstream.

Despite never winning a single contest, Kucinich remained in the race well after that then-Sen. John Kerry would win the party's nomination. Kerry routed the rest of the field on Super Tuesday, including in Ohio where Kucinich finished in third.

Kucinich tried to win the presidency a second time four years later but quickly dropped out. He faced increasingly difficult congressional races before ultimately losing to a fellow incumbent Democrat, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, after his district was eliminated in 2010. Since then, he has had unsuccessful runs for Ohio governor and Cleveland mayor. Last year, he led noted vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s long-shot Democratic presidential campaign before leaving the campaign shortly after Kennedy said he would run as an independent candidate. Kucinich is now seeking a return to Congress as an independent.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul
Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican, smiles during his 2008 presidential campaign.Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Year: 2008

Ron Paul honed a reputation as a congressional iconoclast over decades in Washington, earning him the nickname "Dr. No."

The GOP presidential field was vast and chaotic in 2008, but Paul remained in the race even as it became clear that Sen. John McCain of Arizona would win. Paul garnered national attention through his eye-popping online fundraising through so-called "money bombs." Paul remained in the race even after finishing third in Texas.

After the 2008 contest, Paul mounted another run four years later. Like in 2008, he remained in the race even after losing Texas, though this time he finished in second. Paul left Congress in 2013. He later campaigned for his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, during the younger Paul's 2016 campaign. He also founded a think tank and continues to comment on the news.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio speaks in Florida
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, speaks to residents in his home state during his 2016 presidential campaign. Rubio went on to lose his state to future President Donald Trump.Paul Sancya/AP

Year: 2016

Sen. Marco Rubio entered the 2016 campaign with arguably the most hype of anyone on this list. A Tea Party upstart, he was once proclaimed the GOP's "savior" due to his background and rapid rise.

Like most others in the sprawling field, Rubio was slow to criticize Donald Trump as the businessman and reality TV star shot up to lead the field. By the time the Florida primary arrived on the day dubbed "Super Tuesday II," Trump's main competition had become Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. By the end of the night, the future president's grasp on the nomination was abundantly clear.

Rubio would later reverse his decision to not seek reelection to the Senate. His flip helped Republicans hold onto their majority in the chamber.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren waves to supporters
Sen. Elizabeth Warren waves to supporters as she speaks during 2020 Democratic presidential campaign ahead of Super Tuesday/Steven Senne/AP

Year: 2020

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had declined to accept a progressive draft campaign in 2016, instead ceding the space to what became Sen. Bernie Sanders' surprisingly strong challenge to then-former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Warren entered the 2020 cycle with considerable expectations and looked to capitalize with an early announcement that she would test the presidential waters.

She briefly held the frontrunner status after some strong early polling, but disappointing finishes in the early states illustrated how far she had fallen. On Super Tuesday, she fell to third place in her home state. Warren dropped out of the race soon after. She was reportedly considered to be Biden's vice president.

She is currently running for reelection for her third term in the Senate.

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