Raise a glass: Four hopefuls end failing White House runs
The first state had its say in the 2016 primaries, and some candidates have finally begun to drop out of the race. One of the three Democrats and three of the twelve Republicans on the ballot in Iowa decided to suspend their campaigns, finally realizing that remaining in the race would be a waste of time and resources.
On Monday, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley was the first candidate to drop out, deciding to do so early on in the night. His decision was unsurprising, given how the Democratic race quickly became big enough only for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I–VT). Though he had once been considered as the potential liberal challenger to Clinton, Sanders’ emergence stole all the fire from the former Maryland governor.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee also ended his presidential bid on Monday, making his decision around the time the media was able to confirm the victory of Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX). Huckabee won Iowa in the 2008 presidential primary race, and he hoped for Iowa to once again come to his aid. The evangelical Christians who once lent him their strength largely gave it to Cruz this time around, and the former Arkansas governor finally decided to leave the race.
On Wednesday morning, Senator Rand Paul (R–KY) decided to drop out of the race. The Republican considered more libertarian than conservative had once been poised as a wild card in the Republican race, boasting appeal among young voters looking for a different type of Republican. The re-emergence of terrorism as a critical issue due to the rise of ISIS, however, derailed Paul’s traditional supporters, who believed his dovish tones would be blind to the threat to American security. Lacking the fanatical support his father Ron Paul commanded in the 2012 primary race, Paul had little support to fall back on.
On Wednesday evening, Former Senator Rick Santorum (R–PA) ended his quest for the presidency. Like Huckabee, Santorum was a previous Iowa caucus winner. In 2012, the former Pennsylvania senator emerged as the single strongest challenger to eventual nominee Mitt Romney despite polling in the single digits up until a few days before that year’s caucus. He was certainly hoping that he would somehow match his improbable last minute surge this election cycle, but he never gained any momentum as he was relegated to the bottom tier of GOP contenders.
These dropouts are no surprise to anyone following politics. In fact, what may be interesting is how many people have decided to stay in the race. Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who finished in fourth place with 9.31 percent of the vote, cried foul at the Cruz campaign. A CNN post that said Carson was not going to go to New Hampshire and South Carolina prompted some Cruz supporters to say that Carson would be dropping out of the race, urging Iowa voters not to waste their votes. The Cruz campaign has denied any wrongdoing, though the senator himself gave an apology for not verifying his intent regarding Carson’s future in the primaries. Carson still has some support among both evangelical Christians and voters looking for a complete political outsider a la former host of The Apprentice Donald Trump. His extended stay in the race might continue to draw support away from both Cruz and Trump.
Many of the other candidates in the race decided to focus on the New Hampshire primary rather than meaningfully attempt to appeal to Iowans. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, once the frontrunner for the nomination, currently finds himself with 9.7 percent support in the latest Real Clear Politics average. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stands at 5.1 percent. Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina believes she still has a chance at 4 percent. Former Ohio governor John Kasich, at 11.1 percent, is actually only 0.6 percentage points behind Cruz, and Kasich has a better shot at finishing ahead of Rubio than Bush, Christie, or Fiorina. It is likely that some of these candidates may decide to keep forging on ahead after New Hampshire, a worrying prospect for moderate Republicans who may only have Rubio left as a viable choice. The Super PACs supporting Bush may keep him afloat well into the primary season, and a strong showing for Kasich could keep him in the race.
Finally, there is one Republican in the race who, despite finishing behind “Other” in the Iowa caucus, still believes he will be president. Jim Gilmore, the former Virginia governor, said that he was pleased with his 12 vote showing in Iowa. Though he doesn’t register at all in any Real Clear Politics average, Gilmore believes that somehow he will be the Republican nominee. If he gets one delegate, it is possible that he might make some magic happen should none of the candidates obtain a majority of delegates at the end of all 50 primaries. He’ll need more than 12 votes to get that one delegate, though.