Calling Iowa a ‘sinkhole,’ Andrew Yang drops out of the 2020 race; Bennet and Patrick follow

Andrew Yang and Sen. Michael Bennet dropped out of the 2020 race Tuesday after receiving zero delegates in the New Hampshire primary. (Zak Neumann/Little Village) Deval Patrick followed on Wednesday. (Massachusetts DOT)

Andrew Yang announced on Tuesday night he is ending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. The candidate made his announcement as results from Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary showed him finishing in eighth place, with less than 3 percent of the vote and zero delegates.

Last week, Yang had a similarly weak showing in the Iowa Caucus. A partial recanvass of the caucus results is ongoing, but there’s no chance it would result in Yang receiving any of the state’s delegates.

The California businessman, who had never run for elective office before, was perhaps the most unusual candidate in the 2020. During his first campaign visit to Iowa City in March, Yang explained he decided to run president not out of personal political ambition, but in order to promote an idea.

Yang based his campaign on establishing a universal basic income (UBI) program that would pay every citizen $1,000 each month. Yang called the program “the freedom dividend.”

“Americans just like the word ‘freedom’ a lot,” Yang would explain in his stump speech.

Yang said a UBI program was necessary to help Americans adapt to a changing economy.

“We’re in the third inning of the greatest economic and technological transformation in the history of the country,” Yang said.

Yang promoted his freedom dividend as the solution to almost every problem he was asked about. Racial divisions growing worse? $1,000 dollar a month would improve them. Climate change creating catastrophes? $1,000 a month would lead to solutions. Immigration problems? $1,000 a month would make Americans more welcoming to immigrants.

Yang’s reliance on the UBI as an all-encompassing solution made him something of a one-note candidate.

The idea attracted libertarians comfortable with relying on money from the government, while still objecting to government regulation, as well as some Democrats. The idea, along with Yang’s personal style and charm, also earned him an enthusiastic following on social media, and he became the most meme-friendly of the Democratic candidates. His followers and fans became know as the Yang Gang.

Outside Andrew Yang’s Iowa City headquarters, Dec. 10, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Yang spent a significant amount of time campaigning in Iowa, repeatedly telling audiences that, “As a numbers guy, I estimate that [in terms of political significance] one Iowan is worth a thousand Californians.”

In an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday night, Yang said his biggest regret as a candidate is the significant amount of time he spent campaigning in Iowa.

“Anyone with a crystal ball would have regarded Iowa as a bit of a sinkhole,” Yang said. “If we could do it over again, of course, we would not have sunk so much energy and time and resources in Iowa. We would have been fighting it out here in New Hampshire. And then we probably would have been on the air in Nevada or South Carolina.”

Yang frequently boasted that he was more a successful presidential candidate than several senators and governors. One of those senators is Michael Bennet of Colorado. Bennet also dropped out of the race on Tuesday night.

Bennet finished in 10th place in New Hampshire, with 0.3 percent of the vote, which was more support than he attracted in the Iowa Caucus.

The Colorado senator was one of the more conservative Democrats in the race.

When Bennet announced his candidacy in May, there was already a Democrat from Colorado with an almost identical platform to Bennet’s running. John Hickenlooper, who served as both mayor of Denver and governor of Colorado, dropped out of the 2020 race in August.

Despite his dismal showing, and the fact that months of campaign have done almost nothing to create national awareness of his existence, Bennet hinted in his New Hampshire speech announcing the end of candidacy that he may run for president again.

“And tonight is not going to be our night, but let me say this to New Hampshire, you may see me once again,” Bennet said.

When Bennet’s campaign sent out a copy of his remarks, that line was in boldface.

Yang expressed a similar sentiment on Twitter, albeit more concise.

Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, didn’t hint at any future campaigns in his Wednesday morning statement announcing he was quitting the race, despite finishing ahead of Bennet in the New Hampshire primary with 0.4 percent of the vote. Along with Bennet, Patrick landed in the heap of candidates at the bottom of the results in the Iowa Caucus.

Patrick didn’t join the race until November, which he mentioned Wednesday.

“Many in the media have noted that I entered the race ‘late,’” Patrick said. He then went on to complain about said media, noting they were a reason for his dismal showing in a state that borders Massachusetts.

“We cannot keep mistaking media narratives for political outcomes. Political outcomes are entirely up to voters,” he said. “I encourage you to keep on respecting their power to make their hopes a reality — even when the media confuses its essential responsibility to report what happens with its extraordinary power to influence what will.”

In his statement, Patrick did not mention that there were 17 other Democratic candidates in the race when he entered it, all of whom were much more active campaigners than Patrick, who has worked as an investment banker since leaving the governor’s office in 2015.

With Yang, Bennet and Patrick dropping out, the number of Democrats running for president has declined into single digits. There are eight candidates left.

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