Buttigieg’s staff had just briefed top donors two days earlier about his plans to push forward in the presidential race, looking deep into the March primary calendar for friendly Midwestern states. But in the hours between those two calls, Buttigieg’s disappointing fourth-place finish in South Carolina’s primary — and Joe Biden’s stronger-than-expected win there — squeezed the delegate math of the 2020 race.

The narrow path forward the candidate saw days earlier had all but disappeared, and he knew it, according to a senior Buttigieg source who described his thinking. “The turning point was South Carolina,” said another person close to the Buttigieg campaign…

Buttigieg used his dropout speech in South Bend to call for “a broad-based agenda that can truly deliver for the American people, not one that gets lost in ideology.”

Meanwhile, Buttigieg’s exit delivers “the first break in the logjam in the center of the party,” said Ace Smith, a California-based strategist who worked on Kamala Harris’ presidential bid. “That, plus Steyer getting out, benefits Biden tremendously.”