When Pete Buttigieg dropped out of the Democratic nomination race Sunday, many speculated he had cut a deal with someone. Maybe it was the DNC. Maybe it was Joe Biden. Maybe it was Mike Bloomberg. Our EIC determined it was likely a combination of all three. Now that Amy Klobuchar has dropped out the following day, it is crystal clear Establishment Democrats are pulling out all stops to prevent Bernie Sanders from getting the nomination.
Though Buttigieg was ahead of Klobuchar in all indicators, the Minnesota Senator’s early exit is the most perplexing. She was set to win one primary—her home state—which would have capped off an impressive run and likely solidified her as a potential VP pick for the eventual nominee. But she pulled up short. She couldn’t wait one day to find out if there was a miracle in store for her in the future or a bittersweet finale to this particular campaign in the friendly territory of Minneapolis. Instead, she ended early and endorsed Biden. It only makes sense if we assume powerful Democrats cut a deal of some sorts with her.
And Sanders is getting pushed out once again.
The large mountain the frontrunner had to climb has now gotten quite a bit taller. Super Tuesday could have been a landslide victory for Sanders in the way of delegates as a crowded moderate field had the potential of locking out all of the other candidates from reaching the 15% threshold. Now, Biden’s and Bloomberg’s prospects are much brighter, especially in California where nobody but Sanders was projected to receive a significant number of delegates. The calculus has changed dramatically.
Is it unfair? Perhaps. But this is just politics. If the DNC is helping Biden consolidate the moderate lane, and that certainly seems to be the current plan, then Sanders supporters are going to balk. This isn’t exactly what happened in 2016 as Hillary Clinton already had the moderate lane locked up at this point with no major challengers, but the wide range of candidates this election cycle had favored Sanders before. Now, he’s the one facing the split vote conundrum thanks to Elizabeth Warren staying in for Super Tuesday. Biden lost two of his challengers dragging him down, but Sanders has retained the one person pulling from the far-left lane.
The nomination is still up for grabs and it’s unlikely this will be resolved without a contested convention. But the chances of Bernie Sanders having a clear plurality of delegates going in are now slim. We can expect it to get much uglier from here.