Buttigieg drops out of the race

3 mins read

Pete Buttigieg has pulled out of the race for the Democratic nomination. Buttigieg more or less tied Bernie Sanders for first place in the Iowa caucuses and finished second in the New Hampshire primary. However, his only hope for becoming the nominee — and it was a slim one — was a collapse of the Biden campaign and a failure of the Bloomberg campaign to launch.

These occurrences would have made Buttigieg the prime alternative to Bernie Sanders. As such, he might have had an outside shot at the nomination.

The Biden campaign almost collapsed, thanks in part to Buttigieg outperforming him in Iowa and New Hampshire. But the South Carolina primary revived Biden and, at the same time, demonstrated that Buttigieg, for all his pandering to African-American voters, has almost zero appeal to this key Democratic constituency.

Hence, Buttigieg’s exit.

I confess to having been fascinated by Buttigieg and his campaign. His success in Iowa and New Hampshire was amazing for such an upstart. In my view, he was easily the most politically talented member of the Democratic field, as well as the most intelligent. He may also have been the most slippery.

As the campaign went on, that last quality, his slipperiness, caused me to lose my initial respect for Buttigieg. His ability to face reality and quit a race he cannot win, even though it’s early and he’s in third place in the delegate count, restores a little bit of my respect for him.

Polls suggest that Buttigieg had the support of about 11 percent of Democratic voters. Where will that support go now? Initially, it might go to several candidates, thus blunting the impact of Buttigieg’s exit. Eventually, though, if the race comes down to Sanders and Biden, most of Buttigieg’s support figures to go to Biden.

In the post just below this one, John raises the possibility that Buttigieg might be selected as the running mate for either Biden or Sanders. I don’t believe Buttigieg is the likeliest selection for either man, but I agree with John that “one can imagine him as either Bernie Sanders’s or Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick.

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