Dem 51
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GOP 49
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It Just Didn't Fly

The corpses of wannabe Republican presidents just keep piling up. Yesterday, following closely on the heels of Perry Johnson and Larry Elder, former VP Mike Pence threw in the towel, accepting what everyone else knew from the day he declared: He is never, ever going to be President of the United States.

In the end, as is generally the case, the problem was money. The Q3 fundraising reports made clear that the Pence campaign was nearly out of money; a fact that was brought home by the announcement that Pence '24 would not participate in the Nevada caucuses (entry fee: $55,000). Further, try as he might, the former VP simply could not scrape together the correct number of donors to qualify for the third Republican candidates' debate. Rather than be embarrassed, Pence decided to bow to reality and drop out.

Pence's theory of his campaign made zero sense. None. Nada. Zilch. His notion was that he was running as a Reagan Republican who would lead the party like it's 1999. However, there were at least three problems with this battle plan. The first is that there aren't very many Reagan Republicans left in the Republican Party; certainly not enough to nominate a president. The second is that Pence's real base is evangelicals, and those folks have made clear they prefer a candidate who has the right enemies (say, Donald Trump) over someone who is an actual evangelical. The third is that the Trumpers, including the Trumper evangelicals, who control the Republican primaries, loathe Pence because he refused to try to overturn the 2020 election results.

And note, these were just the problems with Pence's primary campaign. If he had gotten the nomination through some sort of miracle, he was a terrible general election candidate. He's too Trumpy for the Democrats and not Trumpy enough for the Republicans. He's too conservative on abortion for pro-choice voters and he's too liberal on abortion for anti-choice voters. Also, he's got the charisma of a block of wood, and watching him speak is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

Presumably this marks the end of Pence's political career. He's been unpopular in his home state of Indiana since 2015, which is why he jumped ship to the Trump ticket. So, another stint as governor or a run for the U.S. Senate would not appear to be in the cards. He says he doesn't want to be VP again, which is good, since none of the other Republicans would have him as their running mate. He could plausibly return to the U.S. House, we guess.

The most Pence-like candidate is probably Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). Maybe enough of Pence's voters will shift to Scott for Scott to make the polling threshold for the third debate. If not, we could have a fourth drop-out in short order. (Z)

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