When Will The Presidential Candidates Drop Out?

Posted: December 5, 2019 | By: Will Follett and Morgan Garner Tagged: Blog

In the span of a couple of days, three Democratic candidates for president have dropped out, including Governor Steve Bullock, former Representative Joe Sestak, and Senator Kamala Harris. None of their departures came as a huge surprise due to their persistent low polling in the single digits. But, Sen. Harris’ dropout was more notable because of her wide name recognition and pre-qualification for the December Democratic debate.

If more Democratic candidates were serious about defeating Trump, they’d drop out soon to narrow the candidate field, conserve money, construct a cohesive Democratic message, and begin winning over independent voters.

We decided to take a look at the remaining campaigns to see how they will fare going forward. Mixing what we know about Iowa politics with some balanced predictions and a few shots in the dark, ranked below are the remaining Democratic Party candidates in the order we believe they will drop out of the race with our decision rationale.


After failing to gain any electoral footing in Iowa, Julian Castro has adopted the bold, if ill-informed strategy of ranting about the horrors of the state. One could argue that based on this alone, he has removed himself from caucus contention. To make no mention of his polling, attacking the demographics of a state is not a time-honored tradition of winning it. Yet, in the race, he remains, though he hasn’t visited Iowa in some time. Couple this with a lack of debate appearances, low-polling, and a growing distaste for his rhetoric among the Iowa voter base, and his interest seems to have dissipated almost completely. Though he seems confident that he can make an impact with more diverse states, and seems ready to stay in the race through the first few primaries, we surmise Castro to be the next candidate to walk off into the sunset.

Predicted Exit: days after Super Tuesday


In a different world, one powered by a logical, partisan meritocracy, Michael Bennet would be in the first tier of candidates. A popular senator from a moderate state, Bennet’s extensive background in law, policy, and education would suggest he is a strong candidate for president. His experience is wide-ranging, his beliefs clear, and his electoral history strong. For Michael Bennet, it should be there, but it’s just not. Like the governors, senators, and heirs-apparent before him, he too has failed to gain any traction and make heads or tails of a crowded, contentious field. While he hasn’t completely abandoned Iowa the same way Castro has, his polling would all but indicate it’s he who is next to come to a crashing halt. The only question now is who will take up his mantle of Patagonia Fleece Family.

Predicted Exit: Before Dec. 31


Cory Booker has a strong track record of success. He’s been a mayor and a senator, and he’s even a vegan! He has undoubtedly changed the lives of many people for the better and will continue to do so. What he won’t be doing, however, is any of these things as President of the United States in 2020. Like many of his competitors, Booker started strong, using name recognition and progressive policy to channel his vision for the country. It was as successful as it was short-lived. When the field began to populate, Booker’s failure to keep up with his early record saw him losing coverage, party support, and most importantly, votes. While a strong performance at the LJ Dinner may indicate he may not be done quite yet, optimism for the future of Cory Booker seems to stem mostly from the candidate himself.

Predicted Exit: April 29


Billionaire Tom Steyer has the personal finances to fund his campaign far into the future, regardless of his low standing in the polls. It will be interesting to see how much longer he continues to deny the reality that his money could be much better spent spreading the messages of other candidates rather than stroking the ego of his own. Or, even better, he could use his money to treat the problems with America that he has diagnosed (such as the climate crisis, investing in public schools, worker training, etc.). While we don’t predict that he’ll perform well in the races, he will likely stay in the race until he fails to gain the Democratic Nomination.

Steyer Predicted Exit: June 3


One of the most recent entrants to the race, former Governor Deval Patrick’s moderate values and track record of success have failed to gain any electoral traction thus far. Like other candidates only just now entering the field, Patrick is looking down the road in the hopes that the field’s tendency to extremes will temper and push voters his way. To be clear, nothing indicates that the current Democrats and progressives will moderate, but that likely will not stop Patrick from trudging along anyways. We covered the candidate’s first visit to Iowa last month and were impressed by his smart approach, but his late entrance may mean that it’s too late to gain followers.

Predicted Exit: days after the Iowa caucus


Michael Bloomberg’s entire campaign hinges on his ability to outlive, both financially and politically, his competitors, and given his enormous bank account and long, if controversial elected history, he may do just that. Unlike others who find their campaigns tempered by money restraints, Bloomberg is said to be willing to spend “whatever it takes” to win. We think his history as a politician will prevent him from embarrassing himself by staying in the race too long after Super Tuesday.

Predicted Exit: days after Super Tuesday


Marianne Williamson’s current strategy of doing very little except visiting the occasional yoga studio or neighborhood association gathering means she reaches one audience only–middle-aged women. Because of this, and the fact that she doesn’t have any other professional obligations, we predict that she’ll vanish sometime in early spring, write a book soon after, and then vanish into obscurity.

Predicted Exit: soon after Super Tuesday


Tulsi Gabbard’s presence as a candidate in a party she vocally despises places her at an interesting point on the spectrum of electoral possibility. Of all those vying to be the nominee, she seems far and away the least interested one in winning the Democratic nomination, and would instead prefer to trash her own party on Fox News. As we’ve reported prior, Gabbard maintains no paid Iowa staff, and instead operates solely on a few volunteers in the state. That being said, her interest in the nomination has no correlation to the duration of her campaign, as she seems more concerned with fighting the process than offering herself as an antidote to it. Because of this, she has no real incentive to end her campaign any time in the near future. We predict she will last at least a few months longer, decrying the process and her fellow party members along the way.

Predicted Exit: days after April 4 (when Hawaii, the state she represents, votes)


Andrew Yang has consistently polled in 5th or 6th place for the duration of the primary, and while that’s likely not enough to win the nomination, it is enough for him to continue on at his current pace for quite some time. The campaign continues to rake in donations and just reported its highest single-day fundraising record earlier this week. While questions remain as to what this means for the candidate’s future, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he continues to campaign until at the very least Super Tuesday, if not longer. His message is resonating, his base is increasing, and his campaign is growing. Why stop now?

Predicted Exit: days after April 28


For the pundits, Amy Klobuchar is America’s last moderate. A Democrat from a relatively purple state, it feels like every month is supposed to be the one where she finally pulls ahead. And yet, as the caucus draws closer, it seems like she may never get that moment to shine as a saving grace for Democrats and Republicans alike. Klobuchar’s last real hope, if not Iowa, is New Hampshire, but even there, she continues to underperform. We predict she will hang on until Super Tuesday and then return home to the Midwest that made her.

Predicted Exit: depending on how Minnesota goes, days after March 3 (Super Tuesday)


While Senator Elizabeth Warren has performed well in Iowa and national polls, it is difficult to imagine her path forward after the National Convention when she is so far left-leaning, has her plans fall apart under close scrutiny, has disastrously claimed to be Native American, and is already vehemently hated by Trump and Republicans. A vote between her and Trump could end up being another Electoral College battle—one Democrats could lose again. But so long as her polling holds, she will likely be one of the final remaining Democrats in the race.

Predicted Exit: through to the end


Although relatively stagnant polling would normally indicate a candidate on the brink of departure, Bernie Sanders, and more importantly his massive fundraising operation, continue to operate at a breakneck pace. We see no reason for him to suspend his campaign any time soon and could see him lasting until the convention should his message continue to resonate.

Predicted Exit: through to the end


Despite the fact that his campaign appears substantially weaker every time he goes on camera, Joe Biden continues his trend of well-rounded polling performance across all the early states, particularly in South Carolina. As long as his expertise-focused messaging and tailored ability to connect to voters continue to net him the success he has had, we see no signal of Biden dropping out any time soon.

Predicted Exit: through to the end


Despite his inexperience and youth, Mayor Pete Buttigieg continues to see his support growing, message resonating, and bank account inflating. We predict he will win Iowa, and possibly others.

Predicted Exit: through to the end

Perhaps what’s most fun about the caucus process in the months preceding is that despite all the data, punditry, and analysis, no one can say with certainty what will come next–who will drop out, who will join the race, who will win Iowa. The two candidates CNN predicted would perform the best not six months ago have already dropped out after never quite finding footing, and countless more have entered since. And, polling above them all, not the former Vice President nor a senator with great name recognition, but the young, gay mayor from a small Midwestern town with an electoral history of fewer than ten thousand votes to his name.

While the path to winning the Democratic nomination doesn’t necessarily mean winning Iowa, the state’s early caucus will play an influential role in determining who stays and who goes in the 2020 race for the nomination.