Former senator Jim Webb, who introduced himself to voters last week by calling attention to how little anyone was paying attention to him, is reportedly about to drop out of the Democratic presidential race, according to Fox News. He rarely popped above one percent in the polls, and his brand of Democratic conservatism, the same kind worn by many of the senators who lost close races in the 2014 midterms, wasn’t catching on. Webb began his career as a Republican and once worked in the Reagan administration.
However, bowing out of the Democratic contest wouldn’t necessarily mean that Webb was vanishing from the race completely. He is reportedly thinking about running as an independent instead. Webb will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. on Tuesday to discuss the future of his bid. James Fallows wrote on Monday that “it seems natural, almost fated, rather than disorienting or disturbing that he would contemplate an independent run for president, rather than continuing as a Democrat.”
After last week’s debate, it didn’t seem possible that Webb could deal with being a pipe-dream Democratic candidate, anyway, after the party efficiently figured out how to simultaneously hold a kiddie-table debate and main debate on the same stage. The candidate, who served in Vietnam, wanted to underline his expertise on foreign policy — he opposed the Iraq War — but ended up mostly complaining about how no one seemed to care whether he talked at all. (He did manage to speak about six minutes more than Lincoln Chafee, who had to answer the question “So, at what point will you drop out?” on live television last week.) The Wall Street Journal tallied up his grumbles: 150 of the 2,766 words he managed to spit out during the debate involved griping about how no one was treating him like an actual candidate.
However, since Webb had no campaign offices in any of the early primary states and has about $300,000 in the bank, his status as an actual candidate might have been debatable to begin with.
Webb’s frustrations with the Democratic Party aren’t new. He told Fox News in July, “The party has moved way far to the left. That’s not my Democratic Party in and of itself.” He saw working-class whites as his potential base — a group of voters that has mostly migrated to the Republican Party.
Regardless of what Webb decides to do, the race he is leaving behind probably won’t even feel a ripple from his departure. After last week’s debate, Hillary Clinton’s lead has grown even bigger, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. She is at 49 percent, while her only viable challenger, Bernie Sanders, is at 29 percent. Joe Biden, whose never-ending internal debate about the 2016 race has left weeks of boring news updates about how he is still thinking about whether to run, is polling ahead of all the remaining candidates. Webb is at 2 percent. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll also shows Clinton solidifying her lead after the debate.
Most voters won’t even realize Webb is gone. A recent poll from CNN showed that 56 percent of Americans had never heard of him.