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8 Presidential Candidates Who Flamed Out: Bush, Clinton, Kennedy, and More

8 Presidential Candidates Who Flamed Out: Bush, Clinton, Kennedy, and More
Hillary Clinton (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan), Jeb Bush (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik), and Ted Kennedy (Press Association via AP Images).

By    |   Monday, 22 February 2016 10:18 AM EST

Jeb Bush suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday following a weak showing in the South Carolina primary, and by Monday was being called "The Unluckiest Bush."

"It Took Jeb $150 Million, 250 Days, And 3 States To Figure Out Republicans Don’t Want More Bush," read one headline, while several publications offered so-called "post-mortem" analyses with creative titles like "Fall of the House of Bush: How last name and Donald Trump doomed Jeb."

While Jeb's flame-out was dramatic, it is hardly unique in the history of high-stakes presidential elections and is, in fact, experienced by candidates across all parties.

Gathered below are eight presidential candidates who flamed out spectacularly.

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1. Hillary Clinton (2008) — "A year before the general election, many were certain it would be New York Sen. Hillary Clinton on the ballot as the Democratic nominee," Politico wrote of the 2008 presidential election cycle. "But her spot high atop the polls wouldn’t last: Debate stumbles, campaign debt, and infighting, and a third-place showing in Iowa — coupled with Obama’s grass-roots momentum — snowballed, and she would drop out of the race in early June."

2. Rick Perry (2012) — "The Texas governor was supposed to be the guy who united the GOP establishment with the tea party in a year where nobody else was doing that. He was supposed to be a guy whose oratory really got the party excited in a race where nobody else was very exciting," The Washington Post reported. "All that lasted up until his first debate performance . . . His campaign was effectively over after his 'oops' moment, but he had enough money to stay in the race long enough to take fifth place in Iowa. He got .7 percent — not a typo — in the New Hampshire primary."

3. Rudy Giuliani (2008) — "Despite his early front-runner status in the 2008 race, the former New York mayor crashed and burned in a major way," The Washington Post reported. Early on, Giuliani's net favorability ratings were sky high, and he seemed poised to march steadily to the nomination as George W. Bush had done before him. Being from New York, however, Giuliani faced an uphill battle with the party's base, which was much more conservative than he. Giuliani never won a single primary. 

4. Ted Kennedy (1980) — "Late-1979 polling data strongly suggested that [President Carter] would be dethroned — by Ted Kennedy," The Atlantic reported of the 1980 election, which was of course ultimately won by Republican nominee Ronald Reagan. "Kennedy had been scoring 60 percent in matchups against the incumbent earlier in the season. In the late fall he was still favored by Democratic majorities . . . But in the end, Kennedy triumphed in only 10 states, mostly in the Northeast."

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5. Howard Dean (2004) — "In late 2003, the unstoppable Democratic juggernaut was led by Howard Dean, who was polling around 18 percent," reported The Atlantic. At the same time, some polls had the eventual nominee who would outgun Dean, Sen. John Kerry, polling in the single digits. Among the things that would lead to the demise of Dean's campaign was the famous "Dean scream," he delivered following an upsetting loss in the Iowa caucus. Some jokingly referred to it as the "I Have a Scream" speech.

6. Gary Hart (1988) — "This campaign was a disaster," FiveThirtyEight wrote of the Democratic senator's bid for the presidency in 1988. "Hart was a front-runner in early polls and had a solid net favorable rating. Then came the Donna Rice scandal, and Hart dropped out of the race. Hart would later re-enter the 1988 nomination fight, only to win zero primaries." 

7. Hubert Humphrey (1976) — "In a survey of 162 members of the Democratic National Committee in November 1975, nearly 50 percent predicted that former Vice President Hubert Humphrey would win the nomination," Politico reported. Humphrey got blindsided in Iowa by Jimmy Carter's "Peanut Brigade," however, a major upset considering Carter "was a relatively unknown former governor of Georgia and didn’t even register in Gallup’s pre-primary polls of Democrats."

8. Phil Gramm (1996) — "Gramm was a big-time conservative who raised a ton of money and had the best early favorable ratings for any candidate not named Bob Dole," FiveThirtyEight reported of the 1996 election. Gramm would fail to secure the anti-Dole vote, however, to rival Pat Buchanan, "who had an awful early net favorable rating." Gramm went on to lose every primary he participated in.

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TheWire
Jeb Bush suspended his presidential campaign on Saturday following a weak showing in the South Carolina primary, and by Monday was being called "The Unluckiest Bush." Here are eight other presidential candidates who flamed out spectacularly.
presidential, candidates, flame out, jeb bush, ted kennedy
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2016-18-22
Monday, 22 February 2016 10:18 AM
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