MANCHESTER, N.H. — Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur with no previous political experience who evangelized a universal basic income and warned of the perils of automation, ended his longer-than-long-shot bid for president on Tuesday night after a yearslong campaign that endured even as those of members of Congress and governors dropped out.
Speaking to supporters inside a ballroom as New Hampshire’s primary results were coming in, Mr. Yang said “endings are hard” and that he had intended to stay in the race until the end.
“I am the math guy, and it is clear tonight from the numbers that we are not going to win this race,” he said. “So tonight I am announcing that I am suspending my campaign.”
Mr. Yang had spent considerable time and resources in the state and was banking on the support of its many independent voters. He had signaled in recent interviews and emails to supporters that he would need to vastly outperform expectations in the Granite State for his campaign to continue.
The end came a week after Mr. Yang, 45, failed to win any pledged delegates in the Iowa caucuses despite spending a significant share of his war chest on ads there.
Mr. Yang’s decision to exit the race closes out one of the Democratic primary’s most surprising story lines, removing a candidate who developed a fiercely loyal following of disaffected voters from across the ideological spectrum and intrigued even skeptics with his wit, levity and relentless positivity.
As Mr. Yang announced his decision Tuesday night — noting that he did not want to continue to accept donations “in a race that we will not win” — there were audible groans.
But a moment later, a supporter yelled: “We still love you, Andrew!” The crowd immediately broke into cheers and began chanting his name.
“Thank you so much, New Hampshire — I love you, too,” he said. “Being your candidate has been the privilege of my life.”
As he approached the end of his speech, the crowd began a different chant: “2024! 2024!”
The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Mr. Yang was one of about a half-dozen viable Asian-American candidates to ever run for president. He became something of an involuntary torchbearer for Asian-Americans as he grappled with how to discuss his identity on the trail and how to address and confront racism.
It was Mr. Yang’s plan to give every American adult $1,000 a month, though, that formed the foundation and rationale for his run.
Aware that a candidate beginning with essentially no name recognition and few traditional credentials would face stiff odds, Mr. Yang often told audiences that he had not initially wanted to run for president, because he was not “crazy.”
But he would add that during a trip to Washington, he was told that if he wanted the government to do anything about job loss caused by automation, he would need to bring a “wave” crashing down on the heads of bureaucrats. His run for president, he said, amounted to that wave.
Mr. Yang enjoyed steady growth from under the radar as higher-profile candidates absorbed the media scrutiny and attacks from rivals that came with that status.
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But two days after Mr. Yang’s underwhelming performance in Iowa, his campaign laid off dozens of staff members from a team that had ballooned from fewer than a dozen people to over 200.
Despite having raised more than $30 million over the course of his presidential campaign — a remarkable sum for a political outsider — Mr. Yang’s team had only $3.7 million in cash on hand at the start of this year, according to federal filings.
In an email to supporters last week, he suggested he would need to finish in the top four in the New Hampshire primary for the campaign to get “the boost” it needed — a goal he failed to achieve.
Mr. Yang’s base of political support consisted mostly of young and male voters — some progressive, some who previously supported President Trump, and many in between. His departure from the race could aid Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whom many of Mr. Yang’s most loyal fans said they had voted for in 2016.
But given that Mr. Yang’s support in the polls never exceeded the mid-single-digits, no candidate is likely to be significantly helped by his exit. Indeed, at rallies and town halls throughout the primary, many members of the so-called Yang Gang said they had never been involved in politics before encountering Mr. Yang.
His plans moving forward were not immediately clear, though senior campaign officials would not rule out a return to politics. “We are just getting started,” Zach Graumann, Mr. Yang’s campaign manager, said Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters later in the evening, Mr. Yang was asked if he would consider running for mayor of New York City. “I wouldn’t rule anything out,” he said.
Early in his campaign — sometimes in front of audiences of a few dozen people or less — Mr. Yang, the Schenectady, N.Y.-born former head of a test-prep company and a nonprofit organization, often sounded the alarm about what he called the “fourth industrial revolution.”
Automation, he warned, would bring mass unemployment, chaos and even violence if no remedy were pursued; free money combined with a more humane economic system, he argued, would buffer American society against its worst effects and help restore people’s dignity.
The candidate and a small campaign staff labored in relative obscurity for about a year until last February, when Mr. Yang went on a popular podcast and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars overnight. From there, he began a slow but steady rise, raising millions of dollars each quarter and moving from less than 1 percent in the polls to 4 and 5 percent early this year. His political operation grew and formalized.
Unlike several more experienced candidates, Mr. Yang qualified for all of the 2019 Democratic debates, and he appeared to grow more comfortable on the trail and the debate stages.
By the time the Iowa caucuses arrived, Mr. Yang was one of just 11 candidates in the Democratic field, which had at one point ballooned to two dozen.
But Mr. Yang’s modest rise also coincided with increased scrutiny of his policy proposals, his past treatment of employees and his handling of topics like race and gender. The news media began digging into the cost of his universal basic income proposal; he was criticized for saying at a debate, “I am Asian, so I know a lot of doctors”; and he faced claims of gender discrimination from campaign volunteers and past employees.
Still, when Mr. Yang ostensibly kicked off his campaign in February 2018 by announcing it in an article in The New York Times, few would have expected him to make a run so deep into the primary.
Mr. Yang seemed self-aware enough to comprehend this. At a debate in December that had been winnowed down to seven candidates, Mr. Yang earned laughs when he remarked, “I know what you’re thinking, America: How am I still on this stage with them?”
In an interview last week, he reflected on his two years on the trail.
“Supporters come up to me just about every day and say, ‘Thank you, this campaign lifted me out of a depression,’ or ‘Thank you, this campaign made me feel so much better about my future,’” he said. “It’s really incredible.”
“And while you’re running, you don’t really reflect on these things because you’re trying to get to the next benchmark,” he continued. “But it’s very touching that this campaign has touched other people. It is something that I had hoped for, but I didn’t realize what it would feel like to actually see it.”
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Michael R. Bloomberg