His latest RealClearPolitics national polling average is only .5 percent. In New Hampshire, the state in which Graham has made the biggest efforts, campaigning there as recently as this weekend with ally John McCain, Graham’s average is 0 percent. Graham’s exiting of the race comes just weeks before the next Republican presidential debate comes to his home state, on Jan. 14.
By leaving now, he frees up some South Carolina donors and operatives, who had either been backing Graham or staying neutral out of deference to the state’s senior senator. He also positions himself as a kingmaker in the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary. However, it’s certain he won’t back Trump or Cruz.