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Sen. Tim Scott’s presidential campaign was doomed by failure to reverse a decline in fundraising that led to a financial loss in the third quarter of this year — as well as stagnant polling numbers in a crowded Republican field.
The 58-year-old’s campaign recorded $12.4 million in expenditures between July 1 and Sept. 30, while only raising $4.6 million over the same period, according to Federal Election Commission records. Meanwhile, Scott (R-SC) was polling at 2.5% on average nationally, according to RealClearPolitics data, and could only muster a 7.8% average in his home state.
The senator’s Sunday evening announcement that he was suspending his campaign came as a shock to his staffers and backers.
As recently as Wednesday, former Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — the head of the pro-Scott super PAC Trust in the Mission (TIM PAC) — told The Post his former colleague was all in on the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses.
“Iowa is his focus. Then it will be New Hampshire, then it will be South Carolina. And by the time we get to November, it’ll be great,” Gardner said in the spin room following the third GOP debate in Miami, where Scott barely made the stage due to his low polling numbers.
When asked if he thought any candidates would drop out following the debate, Gardner deflected: “Look, I think this is, again, a reason for Iowa to look at candidates like Tim Scott and say, ‘You know what? I saw leadership tonight.’”
Scott’s campaign had canceled a planned Iowa swing on Friday, attributing the change of plans to the flu. The South Carolinian then told Fox News on Sunday that “when I go back to Iowa, it will not be as a presidential candidate.”
“I am suspending my campaign,” Scott told “Sunday Night in America” host Trey Gowdy. “I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear — they’re telling me, ‘Not now, Tim.’”
Moments before Scott’s FNC appearance, his campaign sent out a fundraising email with the pleading headline: “One last chance.”
Last month, in the clearest sign that Scott was struggling to gain traction, TIM PAC said it was canceling a planned ad buy because it didn’t want to “waste our money when the electorate isn’t focused or ready for a Trump alternative.”
To qualify for the next debate, on Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Scott was going to need to hit at least 6% in certified polls and attract at least 80,000 unique donors — with at least 200 unique donors in each of 20 states or territories.
Though Scott has declined to endorse another candidate in the GOP primary, his departure from the race frees up another chunk of voters desperately needed by contenders trailing former President Donald Trump in the polls.
“I don’t think Scott’s voters were thinking about voting for Trump, but I think they were thinking about [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis or [former South Carolina Gov. Nikki] Haley,” GOP strategist John Feehery told The Post, adding that his best guess was that DeSantis would benefit from Scott’s absence in Iowa while Haley would would get a boost in the first-in-the-South primary.
“I think this marginally helps Haley more just because of the South Carolina part,” he surmised. “I think DeSantis has a really good shot at winning Iowa, even against Trump … so this helps that process.”
While DeSantis and Haley battle for second spot, the 77-year-old Trump is still far ahead in both national and early state polling.
“It really reminds everyone that Donald Trump is 30 points ahead and unless these candidates catch up, they’re going to run out of money and support,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean, who added: “This is a blip on the radar for [Trump’s] campaign.”
Throughout his run, Scott sought to cast himself as a “happy warrior,” but Bonjean said that messaging was out of step with the tenor of the campaign and the needs of the GOP electorate.
“He refused to get into the scraps that Vivek [Ramaswamy], Haley and DeSantis were willing to do to each other,” Bonjean added. “His message just wasn’t wasn’t attractive to a wide variety of voters.”
Scott is the sixth notable Republican candidate to drop out of the 2024 presidential race, joining former Vice President Mike Pence, radio host Larry Elder, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, businessman Perry Johnson and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.