More time with his family.

Photographer: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Romney's Failed 2016 Presidential Campaign

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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Mitt Romney's presidential ambitions are finally over.

By this point, it was no surprise he dropped out. Political scientist Richard Skinner nailed it:

The story was pretty simple: Republican party actors, including many who had been with him in 2012, strongly signaled to Romney that they had little use for him this time around, as many observers expected. He could have continued anyway, but with a much better chance of humiliation than of winning the presidency. He sensibly decided to fold. 

Two takeaways from this episode:

First, the Republican field is much stronger than it was in 2012 and 2008. In fact, it might be the strongest group of Republican candidates since 1980. That doesn't mean the eventual nominee will necessarily be better than other recent nominees! The Democrats will face one candidate, not an entire field. But the strong field matters a lot right now.

Second, this is further proof that winnowing works. Yes, there were 19 or more Republican candidates in January 2013, but there won't be that many by the time voters get involved in Iowa, and only a handful, at best, will survive much beyond that. Republicans, in particular, have been very effective at persuading losing candidates to drop out during the year before the election. 

One more thing. Just to be clear: Romney didn't consider whether to run and then decided against it. He ran for president for 2016. He tried. Failed. Dropped out. No shame in that, but there's also no reason for reporters to take seriously the fiction that Romney was only considering a campaign. 

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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Jonathan Bernstein at

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at