Failed Presidential Campaigns


Success is not just an option. It is the only option. Read about and learn from our list of failed campaigns. #RaiseTheMoney

1. Michael Dukakis – When Michael Dukakis ran for President in 1988, no one told him that the only governor who wouldn’t look like an idiot in a tank was then-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Republican Party turned the tank fiasco into a TV ad and it all went downhill from there. His up-tight, humorless style made him a serious liability and he ended up losing the election to George H.W. Bush by a wide margin.

2. Howard Dean – In 2004, Howard Dean proved that a high-pitched scream not only makes people uneasy, it can ensure you lose a bid for the White House. On January 19, 2004, Dean was attempting to rally supporters at the Iowa Caucus. He promised to win the White House and added a high-pitched “Byaaaah” for good measure. The scream is the perfect example of how a brief gaffe, given the right amount of media coverage, can effectively damage a politician’s image. Dean ended up losing the nomination to John Kerry, and he forever reminded us that sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it that makes the lasting impact.

3. Gary Hart – Gary Hart proved to us that sometimes “Monkey Business” isn’t all innocent fun. Hart launched his campaign for president on April 13, 1987. He was photographed on the yacht “Monkey Business” with a young blonde who was not his wife. Miami Herald reporters then confronted Hart, who assured the reporters that the woman was just a friend. He later suspended his presidential campaign but returned to the race in December 1987, where he eventually lost to Michael Dukakis.

4. Mike Ross – Mike Ross learned the hard way that it’s okay to celebrate sometimes, but it’s not okay to celebrate with a fist bump from Anthony Weiner. While there were probably multiple contributing factors linked to Ross’s failed gubernatorial campaign, an image of him fist-bumping then Representative Anthony Weiner proved to be a favorite image for Republicans.

5. Herman Cain – Herman Cain’s 999 plan didn’t lead him anywhere except to the bottom of the polls during the 2012 presidential race. Cain vowed to toss out most of the federal tax code and replace it with three taxes – a 9% income tax, a 9% business transactions tax, and a 9% federal sales tax. Cain failed to mention the sales tax would be new, on top of existing state sales taxes. On December 3, 2011, during his campaign suspension speech, Cain quoted the theme song from “Pokémon, the Movie.”

6. Hillary Clinton – Hillary Clinton’s biggest misstep was that she decided on a public persona too late in the game. Many accused her of not being genuine. She also did a terrible job of budgeting campaign resources. She had to dip into her own checkbook to keep her campaign afloat several times. We’ll see if anything goes differently for her this time around.