Pence’s Exit Adds Pressure To Other Low-Polling Republicans

With former Vice President Mike Pence’s long-shot presidential bid hovering in low single-digit territory across most national polls, some pundits were not surprised by his recent decision to suspend his campaign.

Despite his exit, however, the GOP primary field remains crowded — including a handful of candidates who are consistently polling even lower than he was just prior to his announcement on Saturday that he would be dropping out of the race.

According to a recent RealClearPolitics average, Pence received 3.5% support, which was well above the numbers representing former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, U.S. Sen Tim Scott (R-SC), former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

Nevertheless, there was no direct evidence as of this writing that any of those four candidates were considering an imminent suspension of their respective campaigns. On the contrary, Christie recently reiterated his intention to remain a candidate at least until the primary election in New Hampshire.

“I’m going to be ready to take on Donald Trump when people actually do start to vote,” he said.

As the remaining candidates prepare for the third presidential primary debate, which is set for next week, it remains to be seen whether any will substantially benefit from Pence’s absence.

Trump, who has thus far declined to participate in the debates, remains the far-and-away top choice of Republicans His critics within the GOP have long argued that the only way to prevent him from securing a third-straight nomination would require paring down the primary field considerably so that the anti-Trump vote is not split up among several candidates.

With less than three months until voters start casting primary ballots, however, recent polling results suggest that reducing the number of candidates in the field will not cost Trump much, if any, of his current support.

A new NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of Iowa voters found that Trump would benefit following the exits of his rivals — more so in some cases than in others. If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis drops out, for example, a whopping 41% of his supporters selected the former president as their second choice.