Somebody made a deal. Was it the DNC? Mike Bloomberg? Perhaps even Joe Biden? Pete Buttigieg, the young Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who won the Iowa Caucus and performed better than expected in the New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucus (and arguably the South Carolina primary where he came in fourth), has inexplicably dropped out of the race two days before Super Tuesday.
Like I said, somebody made a deal.
Timing of the Buttigieg drop out is more than a little unusual.
Maybe he secured some sort of deal … a “quid pro quo,” we might say.
— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) March 1, 2020
While his chances of winning the nomination were low at this stage, leaving ahead of Super Tuesday, especially following a strong debate performance and over-performing in all four contests to date, it appears to be nothing short of some sort of exchange that pushed him to the decision. Perhaps the DNC told him they would back his run in 2024 if the Democrats lose or 2028 if they win. Maybe Bloomberg and/or Biden offered him a nice cabinet position; it’s almost certain the VP tap is going to a woman regardless of who gets the nomination. Whatever happened, it’s highly unlikely Buttigieg would have dropped out willingly with no assurances. He had absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by waiting until after Super Tuesday.
Unlike Cory Booker, Julian Castro, and others who dropped out relatively early, Buttigieg had plenty of cash on hand. While it’s true he will now be able to apply that money to future campaigns, it still seems like a waste considering his age. As the youngest candidate with arguably the brightest future going, there will be plenty of time to raise campaign funds for his next endeavors. We can therefore exclude all standard reasons for him dropping out and turn to the more conspiratorial notions that someone made him a deal he couldn’t refuse.
If I was forced to guess, I’d say it was a combination of the DNC, Bloomberg, and Biden. By combination, I’m not suggesting they all spoke to him independently or as a group, but likely came to him with a group of promises depending on the various scenarios. If one of the two “moderates” gets the nomination and wins, Buttigieg would get a cabinet position. Chief of Staff seems like a natural fit for a man who prides himself as one who unites people. In case Biden or Bloomberg lose, Buttigieg was likely promised top billing going into the 2024 election.
Keep in mind, whatever offer was made, it will have been big. The stakes are far too high in the eyes of Establishment Democrats as they desperately oppose Sanders getting the nomination. This move opens the doors wide open for Biden or Bloomberg; it seemed very likely Sanders would get the lion’s share of the delegates on Tuesday as the crowded moderate lane made it possible other candidates would fail to reach the 15% threshold for delegates. By eliminating the #3 guy in that lane, his support will be split between Biden and Bloomberg with some going to Amy Klobuchar.
In other words, Buttigieg dropping out gives the moderates a chance. As I noted before, California in particular is a state in which Sanders is not only going to win, but had a chance of taking nearly all of the state’s delegates. Everyone else was floating at or below the 15% threshold in recent polls. Buttigieg’s exit changes everything.
Buttigieg’s exit is great news for the floundering Bloomberg and resurgent Biden. Meanwhile, every Sanders supporter should be concerned that this is the Democratic Establishment’s power play to stop their guy. It very well might work.