With basically no support in national polling or polls being conducted in his home state, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has suspended his Presidential aspirations.
By far considered the most hawkish of candidates on the GOP debate stage, Graham’s claim to the nomination came from his desire to increase American intervention abroad ostensibly to prevent terrorists from coming into the United States.
Graham, a rival in the US Senate of both Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, has taken a hard line on expanding domestic surveillance and NSA interception of Americans’ phone and internet usage.
Graham’s biggest moments of the 2016 Presidential cycle came through his interactions with frontrunner Donald Trump. When Trump had just begun his campaign and criticized long-time Graham ally Senator John McCain, Graham was quick to attack the New York billionaire and call for his apology and exit from the race. Trump responded by giving out Lindsey Graham’s personal cell phone number on live, national television.
After failing to qualify for the main stage at the second GOP debate, Graham became a staple of the “happy hour” debates aired hours before the main contenders. Though his performances at these debates were well-reviewed, Graham never developed serious momentum or polling support to bring him back to the primetime stage.
Graham’s exit generally means little for the overall picture of the future of the GOP primaries. While his exit effectively reduces the overall number of “establishment” candidates, it’s unlikely to shift polling towards any other candidate. Graham’s impact on the race will likely come with his endorsement of an establishment figure in the lead up to the South Carolina primary next year.