The presidential candidacy of Mike Pence was like nothing that’s ever happened before in American politics: A former vice president running for president against the president he served under, while at the same time a potential witness in that president’s criminal proceedings. At the same time, that vice president had to run while being seen as a traitor by supporters of the former president, who had essentially left him for dead during an insurrection.
Alas, it was not to be, as Pence suspended his campaign last week, months before the start of the voting. Pence failed to find any viable lane in the race, never climbing out of low single digits in the polls. The former vice president also never got to debate Trump, as the ex-president has opted out of all primary debates so far.
Pence’s Endorsement Pending
Whether Pence will end up endorsing Trump remains a question. The former vice president had agreed to the Republican pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee, although there’s not really any way of enforcing that now that he is out of the race.
“If you’re expecting this to be the event that finally shakes up the Republican primary, think again: Pence’s withdrawal isn’t likely to give a meaningful boost to any of his fellow anti-Trump candidates,” FiveThirtyEight said of Pence’s exit. “Pence’s main problem was that he had no base within the GOP.”
That site also compared Pence’s run to that of Dan Quayle, also a former vice president and Indiana native, who pursued a nearly forgotten candidacy for president in 2000 and also dropped out before any of the primaries.
Dropouts in a Crowded Field of GOP Candidates
The question is, following Pence leaving the race, is which candidate might exit next.
The Washington Examiner wrote Wednesday that Pence’s exit “foreshadows [the] fate of shrinking GOP field.”
That story noted that Pence, at the time of his announcement that he was dropping out, was ahead of several candidates, including Chris Christie, Tim Scott, Asa Hutchinson, and Doug Burgum. Christie said in a recent interview that he expects more candidates to drop out soon, although he vowed to stay in the race at least until the voting starts.
The question is, who will exit the race next? The likes of Francis Suarez and Will Hurd had already dropped out prior to Pence. Hutchinson, the former Arkansas governor, has been pulling at around zero percent, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him drop out, while the same goes for Gov. Doug Burgum.
Tim Scott has been dropping in the polls and is at just 2 percent nationally (per Morning Consult) after polling much higher than months earlier. But Scott recently qualified for the third Republican presidential debate — even as the thresholds rise throughout the primary process — and may be inclined to stay in the race at least through the primary in his home state of South Carolina.
Other than Trump, it appears Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy are polling well enough that none are likely to leave the race anytime soon.
ABC News this week wrote about what it was like to cover Pence’s “doomed” presidential bid.
“A politician who had once helped lead his party was now being rejected by many of those same voters. One of their main problems with Pence – what happened on Jan. 6 – appeared to be the same thing that divided him from Donald Trump, the former president with whom he used to serve and the current primary front-runner,” reporter Libby Cathey wrote.
“For months, I’ve seen Pence staffers struggle to fill his town halls in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the Republican nominating contest. What had started as regular crowds of 70 in the mid-summer, soon after his campaign launch, dwindled down to two dozen by September.”
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter