KEENE, N.H.— Even after Donald Trump broke all the rules of politics, there shouldn’t have been room in this presidential race for Andrew Yang. Yet here he was yesterday, just before midnight on the last event of a six-event day, signing MATH hats with a silver marker, long after most of the other candidates were asleep. The event, at Keene State College, didn’t start until after 10:30 p.m. The Yang Gang had waited up for their guy.
They didn't know it was the last time they'd be hearing from him in his capacity as a 2020 candidate.
Before the Iowa caucus last week, Yang and his aides had held out hope that his poll numbers would translate into more votes than they actually did. When they didn’t, and when the votes didn’t seem to be there in New Hampshire either, they decided it was time to leave the race, as he planned to do in a speech tonight.
Yang generated more support, raised more money ($30 million!), and qualified for more debates than many of the senators and governors who dropped out before him—more, even, than some candidates who are still in the race. But that alone doesn’t capture what he achieved. Will his $1,000-a-month universal basic income become law? Probably not, but at this point, it’s about as real as Donald Trump’s border wall or Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All. At the very least, he changed politics, as Sanders and Trump did. And he sharpened Americans’ sense that something has gone badly wrong with the economy, that American life is getting worse, but no one is doing anything about it except make empty promises that the jobs would come back. The $180 textbooks that college students have to buy are “exhibit No. 178 in how we’re leaving you a mess,” he told the crowd at Keene State.