Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of Southbend, Indiana, announced that he is suspending his presidential campaign on Sunday. Buttigieg did well in Iowa and New Hampshire, receiving about the number of delegates that self-styled “democratic socialist” Sen. Bernie Sanders did in those races. But Buttigieg fizzled in Nevada’s caucus, and strongly underperformed in the South Carolina primary last weekend—there, he received only about 8% of the vote.
In comparison, former Vice President Joe Biden, after a weak showing up until the South Carolina primary, has begun to see his fortunes improve. Biden won over 48% of the vote in South Carolina, and with that vote-share won 35 delegates.
Now, the delegate count in the Democratic race shows that Bernie Sanders is in the lead, with 58 delegates. Joe Biden has 50 after the South Carolina win. And the only other candidate that has over 10 delegates is Buttigieg, who has 26 delegates. Mike Bloomberg has spent a half a billion dollars on the race so far, but Bloomberg is unlikely to win any Super Tuesday states—and to the extent he does, he’ll pull votes away from Joe Biden and help Sen. Sanders.
In other words, the effect of Buttigieg dropping out means the race is likely down to Joe Biden versus Bernie Sanders. It is highly likely that Buttigieg’s team calculated that dropping out would both carry favor with the Democratic establishment—setting up Buttigieg as a figure in the party for years to come—and would reduce the odds of Bernie Sanders receiving the nomination.
That means that Democrats are uniting against Bernie. That could have a big impact on Super Tuesday’s primaries, to be held on March 3, and the result of the Minnesota primary that occurs on that date.
Sanders leads in the polls in California, Texas, Massachusetts, Utah, Colorado, and Virginia, among other states. In states like Texas, Buttigieg dropping out gives Joe Biden a chance, if he can win over many of Buttigieg’s supporters. In Minnesota, Klobuchar leads in the polls and the betting odds, and Buttigieg dropping out cements her chances of winning her home state.
This being said, Sanders is the leader in the betting odds, with a 60% chance of winning the Democratic nomination, and should still perform strongly on Super Tuesday. The Democratic establishment’s effort to unite behind Biden or Bloomberg—against Bernie Sanders—might be too little, too late.