Actually, American Samoa Is Usually the Way the Nation Goes

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Obama adviser David Axelrod not-so-gently teased Mitt Romney after his disappointing Southern Super Tuesday, tweeting, "You know what they say: as America Samoa goes, so goes the nation!" Last night American Samoa voted for Romney, and so did Hawaii, but Romney's third-place finish in Mississippi and Alabama -- the latter of which he predicted he'd win -- was pretty embarrassing. Axelrod's joke was retweeted with lots of snickers, but it turns out American Samoa isn't a terrible nominee predictor.

Check out this rather nice track record of picking nominees in years when there wasn't an incumbent in the White House:

  • 2008: American Samoa votes for John McCain in its Republican caucuses.
  • 2000: American Samoa votes for George W. Bush in its Republican caucuses.
  • 1996: American Samoa votes for Bob Dole in its Republican caucuses.
  • 1992: American Samoa votes for George H.W. Bush in its Republican caucuses.

No wonder the Romney campaign sent Matt Romney to campaign there (pictured above). Historical records of American Samoa's negliected caucuses are hard to find, but it looks like there weren't any Republican caucuses before that. (Or if there were, they didn't merit a line in any wire copy). But American Samoa has a decent record among Democrats, too! They correctly picked the winner in 1984 (Mondale), 1988 (Dukakis), 2000 (Gore), and 2004 (Kerry). (The island's Democrats were uncommitted in 1992.) In fact, the only time American Samoa appears to have been wrong was in the Democratic caucus in 2008, when they picked Hillary Clinton over Axelrod's guy, Barack Obama. Maybe Axelrod's a little bitter?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.