The Curious Case of Tim Scott’s Bachelor Status: Should It Even Matter?

Who cares about Sen. Tim Scott’s marital status? Apparently, major GOP donors do, and it might be an issue for the presidential candidate’s campaign going forward.

Wealthy contributors to the Republican Party are reportedly pressuring Scott to provide more details about his love life, or lack thereof:

Top GOP donors and their allies privately are pushing Sen. Tim Scott’s team for more detail about his bachelor status before deciding how much to support him in the presidential campaign, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

Why it matters: Many of the donors are in the market for a viable alternative to former President Trump — but still aren’t sure about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s running second to Trump in GOP polls. Scott, 57, is among those trying to woo such fundraisers.

The U.S. hasn’t elected an unmarried person as president in 139 years. It’s typical for candidates to trot out their families to try to enhance their appeal to voters.

Scott’s reluctance to say much about his private life has raised concerns among some conservative Republican donors, according to the sources, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue.

Driving the news: Responding to this reporting, a senior official for Scott’s campaign told Axios the South Carolina senator will be discussing the issue in the coming weeks.

Is Sen. Scott’s bachelor status important when it comes to his candidacy or are concerns over the matter based on a dated, largely irrelevant view of what makes a contender viable for occupying the White House?

The question might be more complicated than it might seem at first glance. The United States electorate has not elected an unmarried president for 139 years. The most recent was Grover Cleveland in 1884. He married his bride while serving in office. Before Cleveland, James Buchanan also served as president while not being married.

On one hand, those suggesting that Scott should explain his lack of a spouse might argue that having a family is a sign of stability. Donors might be concerned about the candidate’s status turning off conservative voters who have more traditional values, which could jeopardize his chances of winning the GOP nomination. Given the amount of money they are likely considering investing in his campaign, it might be understandable that they might want to make sure there are no issues that could jeopardize their chosen candidate’s campaign.

On the flip side, however, others might argue that these views are antiquated and that it might not matter as much to conservatives as some might think. Author Kara Alaimo made this argument in a new Bloomberg op-ed:

These concerns are irrational and unreasonable. It’s time for American voters — who are increasingly single — to stop judging politicians by their marital status.

Today, Americans are more likely to be single than at almost any other time in history. In 2018, the marriage rate fell to its lowest since the federal government began keeping records of it in 1867. In 2022, the percentage of people who had never been married rose to 34%, up from 23% in 1950, according to Census Bureau data. So, it would be statistically unusual if one of our major presidential candidates weren’t single.

It is also worth noting that Scott has been making inroads with evangelical Christians for years. In July, he heavily targeted this demographic in Iowa with a new ad campaign. The senator has argued in the past that his bachelor status could be more of a benefit than a hindrance because it allows him “more time, more energy, and more latitude to do the job.”

Another point worth mentioning is that former President Donald Trump managed to win over evangelical voters despite being a twice-married man who wasn’t exactly faithful to his former spouses. This seems to suggest that right-leaning voters might be open to supporting someone who is not a traditional type.

In the end, Scott’s romantic life should not be a factor as it would not affect his ability to govern. What is most important are his policy stances, vision for the country, and whether he can do the job for which he is running.

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