SOUTH BEND – Super Monday, not Super Tuesday, was when Pete Buttigieg had real impact on the presidential race.

Mayor Pete’s eloquent endorsement of Joe Biden on the eve of crucial voting in 14 states was an important factor in helping to build momentum and to clear a winning path for what was indeed a super Tuesday for Biden. The former vice president won in 10 of those states, in some by landslides.

And Biden’s highest of praise for Buttigieg on Monday, likening him to Biden’s late son Beau in terms of character, courage and intellect, enabled Buttigieg to end his candidacy in a super rather than disheartening way. That high praise also signaled bright future possibilities; Mayor Pete could become Secretary Pete, holding a key Cabinet post, if Biden wins the presidency.

Monday was indeed a super day for Buttigieg as he closed out his improbable but impressive campaign at the right time. He left amid praise and with purpose, a strategically timed boost for Biden on election eve. He thus wasn’t subjected to the embarrassment suffered by Michael Bloomberg, he of the half-billion-dollar campaign, and Elizabeth Warren, she of the plummet from early frontrunner to irrelevancy. Those two suffered humiliating defeats.

But Tuesday wasn’t super for the Buttigieg campaign. It was over. Buttigieg would have won some additional delegates if he had stayed in the race. Not a lot. Not enough. He wasn’t positioned in staffing or funding to compete in all of those states Tuesday. He would not have won any state. There was no path to the nomination.

That path, though never wide, seemed possible after early success in Iowa and New Hampshire. But each success was diminished by a development beyond control of the Buttigieg campaign.

In the Iowa caucuses, the first test with voters, Buttigieg won the most delegates. That should have brought election night focus by the national news media on the startling victory by a young, former mayor of South Bend. It should have brought the bounce in the polls that usually comes from Iowa victory. Instead, with the messed-up tabulation, focus was on inability for days to add up the totals. It took nearly a month for the Iowa Democratic Party to confirm Buttigieg as the delegate winner. Not enough bounce. Mostly jokes about Democrats not knowing how to count.

In New Hampshire, Buttigieg came within 1.3% of a monumental upset of Bernie Sanders in a state Sanders was supposed to win big. But Amy Klobuchar, down to single digits in polls almost everywhere during the campaign, surged one time, in New Hampshire, after she was her most impressive in a debate. The New Hampshire percentages: Sanders, 25.7; Buttigieg, 24.4; Klobuchar, 19.8.

Since Buttigieg and Klobuchar were competing in the same “moderate” lane, if she had not suddenly caught fire to get nearly 20% of the vote, headlines could have been that Sanders suffered a stinging defeat and Buttigieg was for real as a top contender, the frontrunner. That’s not to say that Buttigieg would have gone on to solve his problems with African-American voters and win the nomination. But a Buttigieg win in New Hampshire could have showed weakness in the Sanders effort to expand his base before that became apparent on Super Tuesday, and could have enabled Buttigieg to compete in most of those 14 states.

What now for Mayor Pete, no longer mayor, no longer a presidential candidate? Biden will want him as a surrogate speaker throughout the nomination process and beyond if Biden is the nominee. Buttigieg already is sending out emails to his own extensive donor lists to urge contributing now to the money-strapped Biden campaign.

After the November election? You have to guess the outcome in order to guess the prospects.

Colwell has covered Indiana politics over five decades for the South Bend Tribune.