While never embraced by progressives—many of whom considered him a "corporate tool" who exhibited some of the worst tendencies of the Democratic Party's corporate-friendly wing—reports Sunday evening are that former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is officially ending his 2020 presidential campaign.
Multiple news outlets reported the news based on word from top campaign aides and Buttigieg is expected to announce his decision publicly at an event in his home state on Sunday night.
Buttigieg made the case up through Sunday morning that he was the candidate uniquely capable of beating Democratic frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders as the primary continued, but it appears Buttigieg looked at his performance in South Carolina—in which he secured not a single delegate after receiving just over 8% of the vote—and decided that his best way to serve the Democratic Party's establishment wing ahead of Super Tuesday was by dropping out.
—>> Buttigieg unwilling to be reason Sanders is able to get “insurmountable” delegate lead on Super Tuesday, CNN reporting.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) March 2, 2020
As progressive journalist Branko Marcetic responded to the news, "The most lasting legacy of Buttigieg's run was in existing only to hobble Biden's campaign right out the gate. Dropping out is him being the loyal soldier. The right career move, but the damage may already have been done."
While Sanders won the popular vote in the first primary contest of the year in Iowa, Buttigieg left the state claiming victory before the initial results were even released and ultimately nabbed two more pledged delegates—despite dubiously chaotic reporting and contested counts in some precincts—due to the state's arcane system.
If I’m Buttigieg, and my internal polling shows me getting very few delegates on Tuesday, better to drop out Sunday and endorse Biden, than after a Tuesday humiliation that undercuts Biden’s ability to consolidate
He can get a cabinet post in a Biden WH, but not a Sanders WH
— Bill Scher (@billscher) March 1, 2020
Buttigieg leaving the race left many wondering where the pledged delegates he has amassed so far will now go.
Buttigieg's supporters second choice:
— Political Polls (@PpollingNumbers) March 1, 2020
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Maybe he will split them between between Biden and Sanders? Both candidates thanked Buttigieg for what he brought the primary and wished him well going forward:
I want to congratulate @PeteButtigieg for running a strong and historic campaign, and to welcome all of his supporters into our movement. I urge them to join us in the fight for real change in this country.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 2, 2020
.@PeteButtigieg ran a historic, trail-blazing campaign based on courage, compassion, and honesty. We will be a better country for his continued service. This is just the beginning of his time on the national stage.
— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) March 2, 2020
But the much larger concern for some progressives is what Buttigieg's departure means for the race moving forward. As Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs tweeted:
Wonder what deal Pete struck with Biden. Sure they're working on Klobuchar now.
The play is simple: make an offer to the centrists to stand aside for Biden. Warren stays in to peel progressives away from Bernie. Our votes split. We lose. Because they consolidated and we didn't
— Nathan J Robinson (@NathanJRobinson) March 1, 2020
And as Nate Silver of Five Thirty Eight points out:
Buttigieg dropping out is harmful to Sanders in 2 ways. Per the economist, relatively few Buttigieg voters were also considering Bernie. But, his voters will now help Biden, Warren and Bloomberg to hit 15% in more states and districts.https://t.co/4JApGxCCKx
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 1, 2020
"Buttigieg dropping out may actually increase the likelihood of a contested convention," added Silver. "He was polling at <15% almost everywhere on Super Tuesday, meaning he was tracking to get very few delegates, but his votes will help other candidates to get over 15% and get delegates."
Update: This post was updated from its original to include additional comment and reaction, including that from Sanders and Biden.