The New York Post has a rather odd story up today featuring interviews with a number of residents of South Bend, Indiana. They all seem to have one thing in common. They lived through Pete Buttigieg’s time as Mayor of their fair city and they were, shall we say… less than impressed. Some of the claims are clearly anecdotal, but others can be backed up with statistics. For example, crime rates went up while Pete was the mayor. How much of that was directly caused by his policies and how much might have just been part of a national trend in urban centers is left to the reader’s discretion.
There was plenty of new development in some parts of the city, but almost none in the predominantly Black neighborhoods. There was, however, plenty of older housing being bulldozed in those lower-income areas. Here’s what a few of the folks who were interviewed had to say.
“If he’s the next president, I fear for our country. He couldn’t run our city. How can he run the United States?” said Michelle Burger, 42, a stay-at-home mom who lives in South Bend’s impoverished and predominantly black West Side.
“Look at all the crime — he didn’t do anything about it. Look at our quality of life. If he becomes president, the United States will become one big South Bend — a giant sinkhole. We’ll be in a new depression.”
Another West Side resident, Cornish Miller, 62, said of Buttigieg, “Rating him 1 to 10, I’d give him a 2.”
“Buttigieg talked about all the improvements he made, but he hardly made a dent,” said Miller, who works for a military supply company.
One Reverend from the Interfaith Christian Union church is quoted as saying that there were “a record number of murders” while Buttigieg was mayor. On a quick search, that may prove true. (South Bend was on the list of the top 30 cities with the highest per capita murder rates in 2015.) But it’s apparently always had a fairly brutal homicide rate for a city of that size. Hard to say.
In any event, I’m guessing that reporters were sent scrambling to South Bend after Buttigieg’s surprising “win” in Iowa and a strong second-place finish in New Hampshire. He had to be considered one of the frontrunners after those showings, so the media had to start digging. And once you’ve done all the interviews and gathered the data, you may as well run the story.
But at this point, it might turn out to have been a waste of time. It looks like Mayor Pete’s national support has effectively collapsed. Bloomberg came along and sucked all the oxygen out of the room in terms of the “moderate” lane poised to challenge Joe Biden. And Buttigieg had spent all of his time and energy in Iowa and New Hampshire without having too much of a campaign infrastructure in the Super Tuesday states. So he was behind the curve in that regard as well.
I just scanned down 538’s full list of the latest standings in all of the Super Tuesday states and Mayor Pete appears to be out in the wilderness. The best he does in a few of them is the low teens, while there’s always at least one candidate in the mid-20s or higher. In more than half he’s in single digits. His best showing is a second-place ranking in Maine (!), but even there he’s still ten points behind Sanders.
If Pete Buttigieg limps out of Super Tuesday with only a single win to his name from the botched Iowa caucuses and a few dozen delegates at most, he’s toast. Candidates can sometimes stage a comeback even if they fail to win any of the first four contests, but they don’t survive a Super Tuesday massacre. And unless something happens between now and then to create a seismic shift, Mayor Pete will have to be looking at packing it in.
But what if there is such a seismic shift? There’s one possibility that comes to mind immediately and it could all depend on tonight’s debate. As I mentioned above, the collapse of the Buttigieg boomlet seemed to correspond to the sudden rise in Mike Bloomberg’s national standing. But since then, one story after another has emerged from Mike’s past to inflame and enrage the liberal base. If everyone piles on Mike as expected and these stories receive wider play, the Bloomberg collapse could become a thing. That might open the Not Joe Biden Moderate lane back up allowing Mayor Pete to (re)fill the void. It’s probably a long shot, but it looks like the best Pete has to hope for at the moment.