Pawlenty drops bid for the Oval Office

Kyle Potter

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty has bowed out of the presidential race, according to the Associated Press.

The two-term Minnesota governor announced he would end his campaign Sunday, the day after an improved yet still disappointing finish in the Iowa straw poll.

“I wish it would have been different, but obviously the pathway forward for me doesn’t exist so we are going to end the campaign,” Pawlenty said on ABC Sunday morning.

He and his team had said for weeks that it wasn’t necessary to come out on top in the Iowa straw poll – moving up towards the top of the wide GOP field was key, they said. Prior to Saturday, Pawlenty had been polling near the bottom.

But Pawlenty’s third place finish among Republicans in the straw poll, behind fellow Minnesotan and Michele Bachmann and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, was apparently not enough to continue. His 2,293 votes were less than half of those for both Bachmann and Paul.

Dismal polling numbers since he officially entered the race in late May and struggles with fundraising foreshadowed his decision to shutter his campaign more than a year ahead of the general election.

A Public Policy Polling survey from mid-July found that only 5 percent of Republican voters would support Pawlenty in the primary – second-to-last among major candidates. In the second quarter of fundraising, the former governor pulled in $4.2 million. 

Bachmann’s rise as a viable candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Saturday announcement that he would enter the race were likely strong factors in Pawlenty’s decision, too.

As the race wore on over the course of the spring and summer and Pawlenty’s campaign showed few signs of progress, speculation arose that he might challenge DFLer Amy Klobuchar for her U.S. Senate seat in 2012. Public Policy Polling found in a June poll that Klobuchar would handily defeat Pawlenty in that match-up, 54-41.

Chris Cillizza from the Washington Post offered a spot-on analysis of how Pawlenty got to the point of dropping out of the race.