South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, after months of languishing in the polls at the bottom of the large Republican field, announced Monday that he is dropping out of the 2016 presidential race. The decision marks the end of a long-shot campaign that depended largely on Graham’s hawkish policy prescription to combat the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Graham attracted less than 1 percent of interest from national voters as of Monday, according to an aggregate of polls provided by Real Clear Politics. That leaves him in a virtual tie with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum for 11th place. Just one candidate currently polls worse than Graham and Santorum: former New York Gov. George Pataki.
It was a privilege to support my dear friend @LindseyGrahamSC - thank you for all you have done for the country you love & serve so well!
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) December 21, 2015
Nobody is more clear-eyed about ISIS than my friend @GrahamBlog. As he leaves the race I hope our party & country listen to his counsel
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 21, 2015
Notably, Graham was one of the few in the GOP field who advocated sending U.S. ground forces back into the Middle East to combat ISIS. That position aligned Graham with his friend, the 2008 Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has appeared alongside him recently. Now McCain could endorse a different candidate and campaign with him in New Hampshire, where he won a crucial primary that saved his campaign in 2008.
Besides his lackluster polling, Graham struggled to raise significant amounts of money. At the end of the third quarter of the year, his campaign PAC had raised just $4.8 million, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Outside groups raised just over $3 million for the senator. That lands him in 10th place overall among the 2016 presidential candidates, Democrats included.
Graham, 60, has been a senator since 2003 and has been re-elected twice to the body. He is a former congressman and officer in the Air Force, where he served six and a half years as a lawyer.