It was a campaign that experts didn’t give much of a chance and in the end they were proven correct. But on the last day he could withdraw from his home state Presidential ballot, Lindsey Graham decided to throw in the towel on his Presidential bid. Graham could never get over 2% in the polls or off the 6:00 debate, so the impact on the race won’t be much for the remaining candidates.
But out of a group that occupied the middle of my personal pack, Graham was actually on top for a couple reasons: a well-thought out foreign policy and some good ideas when it came to trade and job creation. Yet the fact he would probably be embarrassed with his showing in his home state, coupled with the likelihood his money was running out, probably were the factors that led Graham to withdraw.
Granted, 1% (if that) isn’t much in the race. But the question still remains about where Graham’s supporters may turn and I suspect the answer is Marco Rubio – a guy who could use a little shot in the arm. Rubio seems to be fading to the back of the top four contenders – a group that includes Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson with Rubio. Rubio seems to be holding his position on the ladder as Ben Carson slides down the polling chute, but support isn’t growing at the pace that Cruz and Trump are enjoying. Nor can Rubio get out of third in any state except New Hampshire, and there his hold on his distant second behind Trump is more and more tenuous.
So Graham can go back to being a full-time Senator, while the other two who are under 1 percent in the polls – Rick Santorum and George Pataki – will be on the South Carolina ballot. Each of them, though, really has a one-state strategy, with Santorum trying to reclaim his magic in Iowa and Pataki circling New Hampshire. They probably don’t have the money to compete for another month, though.
Counting Jim Gilmore, we are now down to 13 contenders from the original 17, although Graham is the first of the four sitting United States Senators to bow out. Among that quartet, decision time looms for Rand Paul, who is up for re-election to his Senate seat, while Marco Rubio has already announced he will not return and Ted Cruz isn’t up until 2018. (The same goes for Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side.)
I suspect by the time the next debate occurs we may only have nine or ten remaining on the GOP side. There’s just not enough money to support more candidates.