From political nobody to household name, Pete Buttigieg’s rise in popularity was unexpected – but on Sunday night he ended his campaign where it began in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana.
“I’m no longer seeking to be the Democratic candidate for president, but I will do everything in my power to make sure we have a Democratic president come January,” Buttigieg said to a crowd in South Bend.
After winning Iowa (albeit barely) and coming in a close second in New Hampshire, expectations for his once longshot campaign were high, but ultimately a distant third-place finish in Nevada and a disappointing fourth-place finish in South Carolina caused him to end his campaign.
The former South Bend mayor made history as the first openly gay Democratic presidential candidate, a sentiment not lost on social media as #ThankYouPete trended on Twitter with supporters of Buttigieg and other candidates alike sharing the impact seeing a proudly gay man run for president had on them.
His campaign outlasted and out-raised senators and governors who dropped out long before voting started despite only being the mayor of the fourth largest town in Indiana. But despite the push from his victory in Iowa, Buttigieg’s national polling average stalled at 10% and he failed to win over many voters of color. In South Carolina, where black voters make up the majority of the Democratic electorate, exit polls show he won just 3% of them.
Buttigieg exited the race two days before 15 states and territories vote on Super Tuesday, begging the question of who his supporters will vote for. According to a recent Morning Consult poll, 21% of Buttigieg supporters named Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as their second choice with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and former Vice President Joe Biden close behind at 19%. With a large number of ballots already being cast through early voting in Super Tuesday states (1.4 million Democrats have already cast their ballots in California), individuals in those states and others who have already cast their ballots for Buttigieg now face the reality that their votes no longer count.
“To be honest, I’m kind of like, ‘Oh crap, what do I do now,’” said McCormick first-year Caroline Harms, a Pete Buttigieg supporter who mailed her absentee ballot on Tuesday. "I’m a little sad my vote doesn’t count because this is my first time voting.”
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