Super Tuesday Summary
After a disappointing showing in SC, Buttigieg dropped out of the presidential race. Predictions that Buttigieg would struggle to get black voters came true. He spent a lot of time, money, and energy trying to win votes among minorities in SC and came away empty handed; he only won 2% of black voters. Not good for a candidate running on the unity message. Warren fared almost as badly with 4%. As predicted, Biden dominated with 64%, followed by Bernie with 15%. This bodes well for Biden on Super Tuesday.
The timing is strange for Buttigieg. Why drop out only two days before the biggest single day of the primaries? Several theories make sense. First, after a herculean effort to win delegates in Iowa and New Hampshire, Buttigieg never gained traction nationally. He may have seen no path to the nomination. On a campaign call Sunday night, he said he felt that suspending his campaign was the right thing to do since he didn’t see a path to victory. The simplest explanation is his momentum just ran out. His stock was never going to be higher than it is right now.
Second, he may have been convinced that the best way to beat Trump was to narrow the field. It might be the case that Sanders’ success is due to the way other candidates are splitting the moderate vote. Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Steyer, and Klobuchar are all fighting for the same broad pool of voters. Who his supporters will end up voting for in the primaries is anybody’s guess; #PetetoWarren is trending on Twitter this morning. Maybe his metrics showed that Biden was surging, he was waning, and Super Tuesday would go the way of South Carolina. If that’s true, Buttigieg did Biden a favor by giving him a better chance of beating Sanders.
Third, it’s hard to believe he doesn’t have an agreement with some of the other candidates for a future position. Maybe he’ll be Biden’s VP choice, although I think someone like Booker or Harris would be more likely. Maybe he has his eye on Secretary of Defense. Whatever his plan, it seems unlikely that he would drop out without any arrangement for the future.
Buttigieg reportedly talked to Joe Biden and Barack Obama Sunday night. When Biden asked for his endorsement, he said he would consider it. Obama counseled him to think about how best to use his momentum and influence.
It will be interesting to watch the legacy of Buttigieg’s 2020 run develop. Though I’m not sure the presidential race is the best place for it, I do admire the ambition it took for a mayor of a medium sized town to make a run for the highest office in the world. He’s young, politically savvy, and articulate. He rallied supporters, articulated a vision, and raised almost $90 million. It might have been foolhardy, but it was impressive. This is just the beginning of Buttigieg’s career in national politics.
On another front, Buttigieg’s candidacy embodied an ongoing divide in American culture and politics. He came to prominence castigating Mike Pence’s views on same-sex marriage and abortion, and lambasting conservative Christians and evangelicals - under the auspices of his own Christian faith - remained a central part of his appeal. Militant opposition to historic Christian values sells, both inside and outside the church, unfortunately. If a married gay man can run a pro-choice campaign as a Christian, anything can happen. On one side, it shows that faith is still an important part of political campaigns and on the other it signals the ongoing decline of Christian belief and influence in American society.
On to Super Tuesday
Bernie’s momentum has incited pushback across the political spectrum. His past, his economics, moral failures, defense of communist regimes, and his policy initiatives have come under a new level of scrutiny since he won Nevada. Even on the left, a Never Sanders coalition is forming. His defenders have sought to rebrand him by distancing him from socialism. Despite that, he still has considerable momentum heading into tomorrow’s votes where a third of the Democratic delegates are up for grabs.
Here’s another point to consider, Super Tuesday is the first time Bloomberg will be on the ballots and that could change things for Biden. Biden and Bloomberg, especially with Buttigieg out of the race, are fighting for the same voters. South Carolina was a big win for Biden, but it could all be overshadowed by a landslide for Bernie or a split with Bloomberg by Thursday morning. However, if this turns the tide, Biden could build a considerable lead this week. For all the speculation up to this point, Tuesday will finally bring a level of certainty that rests not on speculation from various polls and pundits but from the voters, who have already indicated they don’t vote according to the polls.
Over the weekend, Biden received endorsements from Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O'Rourke, a strong boost for his campaign and a sign that the establishment candidacy may come together after all. It's also important to note that all three announced their support in Texas, an extremely important state for Biden and his best bet to counterbalance Bernie's support in California. Predictions show Biden winning the south and some of the midwest and Bernie carrying the west coast and the northeast. If there's any reliable trend in the primaries thus far, it's that Tuesday night may hold a few surprises.
Who Are These People?
This presidential election is continuing the trend of personality driven candidacies. When it’s easier than ever to support a candidate based on a created media persona, or a few video clips, it’s more important than ever to do some digging to find out what the candidates believe, what they stand for, and how they will ultimately govern. The New York Times published a series of articles making the case for the various Democratic candidates. The articles aren’t written by the candidates’ supporters, but the make a balanced, reasonable, and popular case for each of the possible nominees. If you want the case for Bernie Sanders in less than a thousand words, check these out:
The Case for Bernie Sanders - Jamelle Bouie, “Despite his age, he promises a true break with the past.”
The Case for Joe Biden - Ross Douthat, “The promise of victory, and then the promise of (relative) calm.”
The Case for Michael Bloomberg - David Brooks, “He’s a practical manager who can get things done.”
The Case for Elizabeth Warren - Michelle Goldberg, “She wants to purify capitalism so that it works as it should”
The Case for Pete Buttigieg - Frank Bruni, “He could heal a fragmented nation”
The Case for Amy Klobuchar - David Leonhardt, “She could win the voters Democrats need”
Additionally, Fivethirtyeight has a great article out on the Sanders coalition. He attracts a young, very liberal, and very diverse base of voters. Compared to Biden and Bloomberg, Bernie’s constituency is unconventional, but it might signal the strength of populist candidates moving forward.
Cole Feix is the founder and president of So We Speak. Follow him on Twitter, @cfeix7. Subscribe to the Weekly Speak for updates on politics and culture every Monday morning!