Andrew Yang Drops Out

The math compelled it. But he outlasted several better-known candidates.

Andrew Yang, who never cracked 5 percent in national polling, has ended his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. WaPo:

Andrew Yang, a Democratic businessman who campaigned on giving every adult American a monthly check for $1,000, will end his campaign for president after a disappointing showing in the New Hampshire primary.

“I am a numbers guy,” Yang said in an interview before addressing supporters at Manchester’s Puritan Backroom. “In most of these [upcoming] states, I’m not going to be at a threshold where I get delegates, which makes sticking around not necessarily helpful or productive in terms of furthering the goals of this campaign.”

Yang said he had not decided whether to endorse another candidate, though campaigns have reached out.

“If I become persuaded that there’s a particular candidate that gives us a superior chance of beating Donald Trump, and I think it’s important to make that opinion known, then I would consider it for sure,” Yang said. He also said he would be open to becoming another candidate’s running mate or joining a presidential Cabinet.

I had not heard of Yang before he began his quixotic campaign for the White House. While it never made sense to me that he was running, much less qualifying for the debates, given that he had no meaningful experience, I ultimately found him interesting.

And, as the Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere points out, he made an outsized impact on the race.

Yang generated more support, raised more money ($30 million!), and qualified for more debates than many of the senators and governors who dropped out before him—more, even, than some candidates who are still in the race. But that alone doesn’t capture what he achieved. Will his $1,000-a-month universal basic income become law? Probably not, but at this point, it’s about as real as Donald Trump’s border wall or Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All. At the very least, he changed politics, as Sanders and Trump did. And he sharpened Americans’ sense that something has gone badly wrong with the economy, that American life is getting worse, but no one is doing anything about it except make empty promises that the jobs would come back. The $180 textbooks that college students have to buy are “exhibit No. 178 in how we’re leaving you a mess,” he told the crowd at Keene State.


Yang’s remaining rivals bought in to his pitch months ago. Elizabeth Warren spoke about automation at the October debate; Joe Biden discussed the fourth industrial revolution on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. As for Yang’s $1,000-a-month idea? His campaign’s pollsters put together a memo showing that support for the plan in Iowa grew from 17 percent of expected caucus-goers in September to 60 percent in January.

Politics is a strange business. There’s no way Yang should have outlasted star politicians like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. Or even the half dozen faceless governors who we have long since forgotten were running. But he did.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. James Joyner says:

    @Guarneri: Agreed. There has always been the “have a beer with” factor in American politics, at least in the television era. But I think it matters more now than ever.

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    Yang’s success, can be partly attributed to voters looking for someone outside the establishment who change the Washington narrative. He also addressed economic anxieties from a different perspective.

  3. Hal_10000 says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think if Yang ran for a smaller office — say Mayor or Governor or Congress — he’d win. And it would be interesting to watch.

  4. Scott says:

    What is interesting is that outsiders like Yang are looking at the future and extrapolating current trends. We are always looking at the short term to our detriment. I think he is right on his focus on AI and the decreasing need for people and labor. Even in today’s economic environment, labor is under pressure and income inequality is growing. Inequality will lead to societal instability. UBI is a solution to redistribute. Whether it is the right solution is the debate.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    More than any other candidate, when Yang answered a question, I would stop an listen. I didn’t always agree with him, but he was incredibly thoughtful and his responses did not seem canned.

    He was also the candidate that I think most explicitly highlighted problems with our current Capitalist economy, while himself being an avowed Capitalist. It’s much more interested to me to hear someone talk about the effects of automation, versus someone just saying “we’re gonna take on the billionaire interests.”

    And then there’s this:

    All in all, I’m very glad he jumped into the race.

  6. Jay L Gischer says:

    There are a lot of people out here in Silicon Valley who like the idea of UBI and want to see it advanced. So they supported Yang to push that message, not because they thought he could win. And as you know, they have considerable resources.

    It was a success.

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: No, UBI is a scheme to subsidize capital with taxpayer money. If I were in the owner class, I would support taxing you to pay part of the wages of my workers, too. After all, it improves my bottom line and I’m one of the “producers,” so I shouldn’t be having my wealth confiscated in the first place.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    I take it the subhead is a play on Yang’s lapel pin. I can’t imagine what political consultant told him his MATH pin was a good idea.

  9. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    No, UBI is a scheme to subsidize capital with taxpayer money.

    That might wind up being the result, but I doubt it’s a scheme.

    Cutting corporate taxes is such a scheme. after all, they lead to a bigger deficit, which is covered with debt, which taxpayers pay capital and interest of.

    But we’re getting off topic, I think.

  10. al Ameda says:

    It’s not out of the question to see him as our next Secretary of Education in 2021

  11. grumpy realist says:

    All the NEETs over at Reddit are mourning Yang’s departure because “now we won’t get our $1000/month neetbux.”

    No comment.