Andrew Yang dropped out of the presidential race Tuesday, shortly after the polls closed in the New Hampshire primary. "You know, I am the math guy and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race," Yang told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire. 

"I am not someone who wants to wants to accept donations and support in a race that we will not win."

Yang's two-year run catapulted the philanthropist from obscurity into the national spotlight.

Yang entered the race toward the end of 2017 as an unknown with virtually no donor list. He had neither held nor run for office, and his policy agenda primarily focused on creating a "universal basic income" of $1,000 for every American over the age of 18. Yang's "Freedom Dividend" was such an essential part of his candidacy that his original campaign website was named after it.

"We went from a mailing list that started with just my gmail contact list to receiving donations from over 400,000 people around the country and millions more who have supported this campaign," Yang said. "One of the things I'm most proud of: We gave $1,000 a month to 13 families around the country."

The Manhattan businessman and philanthropist ran a campaign that was part populist, part futurist. He called for new rules to protect American workers from the inevitable ubiquity of automation, scrapping GDP as a metric for national success in favor of quality-of-life measurements, and for decoupling an individual's economic value from their human worth.

He excoriated companies like Amazon for "sucking up" billions in profits, shutting down retail stores, hollowing out communities and paying zero in taxes. His stump speeches often mentioned robot trucks and the value of the individual's personal data.

Yang's loose style (he went tieless at debates) and outsider status made him somewhat of a novelty in national media coverage, a phenomenon that was heightened by his penchant for entertaining stunts: he crowd-surfed at his events, sprayed whipped cream into the mouths of supporters and announced lottery-style giveaways on the debate stage. Headlines called him a "random man" running for president.

But Yang's campaign repeatedly defied expectations. With the help of his incredibly passionate group of supporters, known colloquially as the "Yang Gang," he out-competed and outlasted more than a dozen career politicians, including governors, sitting U.S. senators and sitting U.S. congressmen.

He qualified for every Democratic debate in 2019, failing only once to make the stage in early 2020 because of a dearth of polling around the holidays. He raised $26.5 million in the last six months of the 2019, an impressive sum for a political neophyte. He was also the last candidate of color to appear on the Democratic debate stage, something he called "both an honor and a disappointment."

In an interview with CBS News in September, Yang said that he always expected to be competitive.

"Now this is on the high side of the various things I've imagined for the campaign because I also did see that there was a possibility that we never caught on," he admitted.

But ultimately, Yang's run came to an end in New Hampshire. Even before the votes had been cast, Yang told his supporters, "if this doesn't come out of New Hampshire, it dies."

Still, Yang's impact will likely be felt on party politics going forward. His Yang Gang proved to be a potent fundraising force, and his support for UBI has pushed the idea into the national political discussion in a new way.

On Tuesday night in New Hampshire, Yang told his supporters he'd be back. When asked about running for Mayor of New York City or joining a future administration, Yang said he "would not rule anything out."

"This movement is future of American politics. This movement is the future of the Democratic party," Yang told the crowd.

"Together we will continue to do the work and move this country forward because the Yang Gang isn't going anywhere."

Nicole Sganga contributed reporting. 

First published on February 11, 2020 / 8:07 PM

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