Lindsey Graham drops out of 2016 race.

Lindsey Graham Just Dropped Out. Here’s How His Campaign Will Be Remembered Most (If at All).

Lindsey Graham Just Dropped Out. Here’s How His Campaign Will Be Remembered Most (If at All).

The Slatest
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Dec. 21 2015 10:46 AM

Lindsey Graham Drops Out of the GOP Race

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Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during the CNN republican presidential debate at The Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Another one bites the dust. Lindsey Graham on Monday announced that he is officially suspending his presidential campaign. “While we have run a campaign that has made a real difference, I have concluded this is not my time,” he said in a video announcement.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Graham is the fourth GOP hopeful to call it quits this year—joining Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal—and his exit shrinks the field to either 12 of 13, depending on whether you still believe Jim Gilmore is actually running for the Republican nomination.

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Graham’s campaign never really got off the ground. It will be remembered most—if it’s remembered at all—for the time that Donald Trump doxxed Graham during a campaign rally by giving out his personal cell phone number. The South Carolina senator never made it onto the main debate stage and while he turned in a few entertaining performances in the undercard events, winning those JV games never translated into a noticeable bounce in the polls.

Still, Graham’s campaign wasn’t a complete bust. He entered the race with the goal of focusing the GOP field on national security, and the “presidential hopeful” honorific that came with a declare candidacy afforded him plenty of opportunities to make his case for a muscular foreign policy on the Sunday talk shows (and to generally serve as a counterweight to Rand Paul’s more dovish worldview). Ultimately, though, it wasn’t Graham but the terrorist attacks in Paris and the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, that reshaped the GOP race into one dominated by national security fears. Regardless, the shift made Graham's campaign mostly moot.

In the short-term, his exit will barely register in the polls. He’s currently averaging less than 1 percent both nationally and in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire—and even in his home state of South Carolina, he was sitting at only 1.7 percent. Nonetheless, Graham’s departure will be good news for his fellow establishment rivals since it should now make it easier for Graham’s friends in South Carolina and in the Senate—including his congressional BFF John McCain—to toss their support behind a candidate who has an actual chance of winning.