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Elections: The Home State Effect in Presidential Elections: Advances in the Study of Localism


Brian DiSarro is an ABD in political science at the University of Iowa specializing in state politics.

Jillian Barber recently graduated with a BA in political science from the University of Iowa and will be working in Washington, DC.

Tom W. Rice is the chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa. His research interests include political behavior, social capital, and local politics.


History shows that presidential candidates often win their home states by large margins. This phenomenon, which is sometimes called localism, has attracted the attention of scholars for decades. In this study, we improve upon previous localism research in several significant ways. Most important, we challenge the traditional conceptualization of the home state effect, arguing that a candidate's national showing is best thought of as a determinant of the effect instead of part of it, as has often been the case. We also devise three other new hypotheses to account for variation in the home state effect. All of these hypotheses find support in our empirical analyses, providing the most complete understanding of the home state effect to date.