01 March 2020

Pete Buttigieg Out

Pete Buttigieg has withdrawn from the race to be the Democratic Party's Presidential nominee two days in advance of Super Tuesday.

This leaves the following candidates still in the running:

1. Sanders
2. Biden
3. Warren
4. Klobuchar
5. Bloomberg
6. Gabbard

Steyer's departure probably gave a slight nudge up to Biden.

Buttigieg's departure probably boosts Biden, Klobuchar, and to a lesser extent, Bloomberg. 

Gabbard's campaign is weaker by every measure than that of Tom Steyer and of Pete Buttigieg who have already dropped out, has not earned a single delegate, and is not eligible to participate in debates either. She is polling at 0% to 2% in various state primary polls.

So, there is really a five candidate field left in the running. This is the same size at the Republican Party field on the eve of Super Tuesday in 2016.

But, both Sanders and Biden, as the clear top two candidates at this point, aren't going anywhere until one of them has a majority of the pledged delegates or the writing is on the wall that the candidate will achieve that or very nearly so.

Klobuchar is now the only viable candidate under the age of seventy in the race. But, even with these departures, however, Klobuchar will be hard pressed to exceed the 15% threshold outside of Minnesota even with a nudge from Buttigieg's departure. If she fails to get any delegates outside Minnesota on Super Tuesday, it seems likely that should would drop out and cede the role of sole potentially viable female candidate to Warren, and her role as a moderate candidate to Biden. She probably does want to stay in the race until Tuesday, however, to allow her supporters to vote for her and win some delegates that can provide her with partial king maker status in the event of a brokered convention.

Warren, in contrast, is likely to pick up Super Tuesday delegates not just in her home state of Massachusetts, but also in California and Colorado. And, she has a solid fighting chance at winning some delegates in her former state of residence in Texas, and in Utah. So, she will likely stay in the race to fight another day.

Warren also continues to seem to be the most plausible compromise candidate in a brokered convention for the Biden and Sanders camps, if neither of them secure a first round majority and their backers aren't willing to fall behind one or the other of them. And, she could also be attractive to stranded Klobuchar delegates who want a strong woman to run for President in 2020, and for stranded Buttigieg delegates who supported him, in part, out of skepticism of both the front runners: Sanders and Biden.

Bloomberg has the money and audacity not to drop out after the first round of voting in which he is on the ballot, but may also feel the hard bite of the 15% threshold and have a quite disappointing Super Tuesday himself. I have a very hard time seeing delegates for Biden, Sanders, Warren, or Buttigieg given Bloomberg anything but a cold shoulder in a brokered convention scenario, and even relatively conservative Klobuchar delegates are likely to take their cues from the hits that she made on Bloomberg in the debates. Even a slight stumble in support for Bloomberg, driven, perhaps by increased confidence in the viability of a Biden candidacy, could make a big dent in his delegate count on Tuesday.

Vox has basically said what I just said above (before reading the Vox article).

A field of four candidates by the March 10 primaries is not unthinkable, and if that happened, Biden, Warren and Bloomberg would each have a much easier time meeting the 15% threshold then, and going forward. 

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