Bernie Sanders Is Top Second Choice Candidate for Pete Buttigieg Voters: Poll

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg ended his presidential bid on Sunday night, announcing the "difficult decision" in an emotional speech.

Thanking supporters for helping him make historic wins in the primary race, Buttigieg, who became the first openly gay candidate to run a major presidential campaign, vowed to do everything in his power to "ensure that we have a new Democratic president."

With the former mayor leaving his supporters to turn to another candidate in the crowded Democratic race, a recent poll conducted ahead of Buttigieg's exit shines a light on who might stand to benefit most from his departure.

In the Morning Consult poll, which was conducted before Buttigieg's exit between February 23 and 27, the plurality of his supporters said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would be their top second pick for president.

Twenty-one percent of Buttigieg supporters who participated in the poll, which saw a total of 13,428 Democratic primary voters surveyed, said they would go for Sanders as a second choice.

However, the other top candidates in the Democratic race did not fall far behind in claiming support from the Buttigieg base.

Nineteen percent of Buttigieg supporters said they would they would support former Vice President Joe Biden, while the same share said they would throw their weight behind Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, if the former mayor were to drop out of the race.

Seventeen percent said they would back former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Overall, Morning Consult said, the division of support would amount to a 2 percentage-point boost for all four candidates in the national polling, which as a 1-point margin of error.

While Buttigieg entered the crowded Democratic field as a largely unknown figure, the former South Bend mayor found widespread support, even winning the Iowa caucuses.

"By every conventional wisdom, by every historical measure, we were never supposed to get anywhere at all," Buttigieg told supporters on Sunday. "Iowa shocked the nation, and along that way, an improbable hope became an undeniable reality."

"In a field where more than two dozen Democratic candidates ran for president, senators and governors, billionaires, a former vice president, we achieved a top four finish in each of the first four stages and we made history winning those Iowa caucuses," he said.

Despite gaining momentum, Buttigieg said that he had made the "difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency."

According to the Morning Consult poll, Buttigieg ends his campaign as a well-admired figure, with 57 percent of Democratic primary voters saying they have favorable views of him, compared to just 22 percent who said they had unfavorable views. Eight percent, meanwhile, said they had never heard of him.

Sanders Buttigieg
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg listens as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) makes a point during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Drake University on January 14, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. Buttigieg dropped out of the race on Sunday, March 1, 2020. Scott Olson/Getty