Tom Steyer Drops Out

The billionaire has decided to stop tilting at windmills.

Billionaire Tom Steyer, who has been a non-factor in the national polls, spent so much time and money in South Carolina that there was fear he would act as a spoiler. But, while he finished in third place, he got far fewer votes than expected and Joe Biden had a late surge.

So, belatedly, Steyer did what he should have after New Hampshire.

NBC News (“Billionaire Tom Steyer quits Democratic primary race“):

Tom Steyer, the California activist billionaire who has largely been a nonfactor in the Democratic primary campaign, dropped out of the race on Saturday night.

Steyer’s departure came after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina Democratic primary. With 70 percent of the vote in, Steyer had just 11.5 percent of the vote — despite spending millions of dollars on campaigning there.

“There’s no question today that this campaign, we were disappointed with where we came out,” Steyer told supporters in Columbia, S.C.

“But I said if I didn’t see a path to winning that I’d suspend my campaign, and honestly I can’t see a path where I can win the presidency.”

Now, he’s quite likely the only one who saw a path to a man with no political experience that few had ever heard of winning the presidency. But maybe that’s why he’s a billionaire and we’re not.

His exit came after he’d spent a total of $158 million on television and radio ads, according to Advertising Analytics. In South Carolina alone, Steyer had spent nearly $21 million as of Tuesday, the firm said.
Steyer had essentially put all of his efforts in recent weeks into South Carolina. He’d shown promise in recent polling in the Palmetto State and invested more time there than any of his competitors. His wife, Kat Taylor, even moved to Columbia earlier this month.

That’s the very definition of a Quixotic effort. Again, it baffles me that he spent so much time and money on it despite zero polls showing him having a shot at winning a single state.

But at least he’s dropping out before Super Tuesday—which is to say, two days from now. While he was going to do poorly in every state—and has likely already gotten some number of votes on early ballots—most votes for him would effectively have been a vote for Bernie Sanders. I suspect most of his supporters will now shift to Biden.

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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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Liberal Capitalist says:

    An observation…

    This was posted early morning, and in the evening, not one comment, save this.

    Kinda tells you something about Steyer, if he cant get a postmortem reaction here, pro or con.