Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina has shown promise as a Republican candidate for president who could break into the party’s primary.
But Scott, 57, never married, worrying some Republican donors, Axios reported Thursday.
How long has it been since the US elected an unmarried president?
Americans have elected only two bachelors president in 234 years: James Buchanan in 1856 and Grover Cleveland in 1884.
Cleveland went on to become the only president to marry while in office. At the age of 59, he married 21-year-old Frances Folsom.
However, it is now more common than ever before in American history for people to remain unmarried. Marriage rates have steadily declined over the past half century.
“To suggest that being married or unmarried will somehow be the determinant of whether you’re a good president or not — it sounds like we’re living in 1963 and not 2023,” Scott said in May.
So why does it matter to some in the GOP if he’s single?
Keeps his personal life very private
Scott has said he regrets the way a political career has crowded out the space for relationships, but he never publicly dated while in office.
“I think I will meet Mrs. Right at the right time, and she wants to have some kids,” he said in 2018.
A 2019 Pew Research Center survey of 9,834 respondents found that about half of Americans consider marriage important but not essential to a “fulfilling life,” and only about 1 in 6 people consider marriage “essential” finds.
Read more from Yahoo News: Does Tim Scott have a path to the presidency?
But the same survey also found that more and more Americans value a “committed romantic relationship.” One in four adults say a committed romantic relationship is “essential” to a fulfilled life.
In addition, older Americans — who vote in much greater numbers than younger people — placed more value on marriage and forming romantic relationships.
In May, Scott told Axios he had a girlfriend, and this week a Scott advisor said the candidate would say more about this. A spokesman for the senator did not respond to requests for more details.
“I’ve seen him mention a girlfriend who is still unidentified, indicating his heterosexuality to anyone who might care,” says Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of the book. Jesus and John Waynea bestselling survey of masculinity in the evangelical subculture.
“There are expectations that politicians will be (well) married and have children (best),” Du Mez told Yahoo News in an email. “For African-American men — especially those trying to appeal to a conservative white base — this may be even more important.”
The GOP primary voters place a heavy emphasis on marriage
Scott is an evangelical Christian, and in the Republican presidential election, evangelical Christians are a dominant voting bloc.
Religious cultures generally emphasize marriage. Authors who have written about evangelical culture have noted that this is certainly the case among Christians in America and around the world.
The integrity of “conservative family values” was seriously undermined by former President Donald Trump, who has enjoyed throwing away wives and mistresses all his life. But Trump was still married — showing that conservative views on marriage may be more about signaling who is “normal” and who isn’t.
According to author Anna Broadway, whose book is coming soon, singleness is disregarded and devalued by many Christians Solo planet argues against the notion that if you’re not married, “there must be something wrong with you.”
Broadway wrote for Christianity Today magazine last year that Christians often have a “binary (and non-biblical) approach to partnership, where marriage is considered good and singleness usually bad.”
“Christians attribute to marriage and children a sense of maturity and worth. This often gives singles the feeling of what the Chinese call ‘bare branches’,” Broadway wrote in 2021 for the Wall Street Journal. “Consciously or not, churches regularly reinforce this attitude through marriage-focused sermons or religious lessons for marriage-focused singles. as a target, overlooking many elderly or celibate worshipers.”
Broadway advocates for what she calls an ’empowered singleness’.
For now, however, Scott’s singleness is a challenge to the Republican primaries, which often view marriage as a key ingredient to a fulfilling and healthy life.
Read more coverage of the 2024 Republican primary on Yahoo News