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Mayor Pete Soars to the Lead in New Iowa Poll

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Nov 13, 2019
South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg
South Bend, Indiana mayor and Democratic 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg  (Source:Associated Press)

As the crowded field of Democratic hopefuls for next year's presidential election continues to argue over ultra-left-wing policy ideas - and continues to dwindle - South Bend, Indiana mayor and openly gay candidate Pete Buttigieg, 37, has stuck to a message of unity and a focus on practical issues. A new poll shows that prospective voters may be rewarding him: Buttigieg tops the poll with 22% support, outstripping the three longtime front-runners that had previously relegated him to a distant fourth, reports CNN.

The CNN report notes that Buttigieg only garnered 8% support in Iowa as recently as August. Back then, Joe Biden was leading with 26% and Elizabeth Warren was trailing him with 20%, and Bernie Sanders - once the darling of the left, especially among the young - had tied with Buttigieg at 8%.

But Buttigieg - who astonished political news-watchers earlier this year with phenomenally strong out-of-the-gate fundraising - has now rocketed to the top of a new poll conducted by Monmouth University and released on Nov. 12. The new poll shows Buttigieg trailing Biden by three percentage points, with 19% support, while Warren slips to 18%. Sanders actually improved his standing in the new poll, climbing to 13%.

Monmouth Polling Institute reports:

Buttigieg has gained ground among every major demographic group since the summer. His support stands at 26% among voters who describe themselves as moderate or conservative, 23% among those who are somewhat liberal, and 15% among those who are very liberal. He is currently in the top tier for both women (24%, to 22% for Biden, and 20% for Warren), and men (20%, to 19% for Sanders and 16% for Warren).

Buttigieg, a Millennial, has framed issues of climate change and its devastating effects in terms of how people in his generational cohort will be the ones to start paying the potentially drastic price of doing nothing to combat the problem. If elected, Buttigieg would be the youngest president in U.S. history.

That may have translated to increasing support among younger voters, though middle-aged voters also seem to have begun embracing the candidate. Noted Monmouth Polling Institute:

Looking at the poll results by age, Buttigieg (26%) is nipping at Biden's heels (29%) among voters age 65 and older. He has a slight advantage among those age 50 to 64 (24%, to 17% each for Biden and Warren), and is competitive among voters under the age of 50 (19%, to 24% for Warren and 19% for Sanders). Buttigieg leads among college graduates (24%, to 21% for Warren and 15% for Biden) and is in the top tier among those without a college degree (21%, to 21% for Biden, 18% for Sanders, and 16% for Warren).

But age is only one factor in Buttigieg's surge. The institute's director, Patrick Murray, said, "Buttigieg is emerging as a top pick for a wide variety of Iowa Democrats. While he has made nominally bigger gains among older caucusgoers, you really can't pigeonhole his support to one particular group. He is doing well with voters regardless of education or ideology."

Murray injected a note of caution, recalling that "Iowa caucusgoers are used to changing their minds up to the last minute. In fact, some probably even look forward to waiting until caucus night to settle on a candidate."

Added Murray: "This all translates to a race that is extremely fluid and will probably stay that way up to February 3rd."

Among the many complex factors that could change the minds of voters in Iowa - and across the country - over the twelve months is a new competitor among the Democrats, billionaire and former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, who only days ago announced his run.

So far, however, Bloomberg - though making a splash in the headlines - barely registers as a ripple among voters, who have had months to hear from the others in the Democratic field and weight the merits of their proposals.

Noted CNNL

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was added on the second day of the five-day polling period, doesn't hit 1% in the poll, after filing paperwork for the Alabama presidential primary last week. Almost 1 in 5 likely caucus-goers have a favorable opinion of him, while 48% have an unfavorable opinion.

Though it's still a long from here to the 2020 polls, AOL.com sounded a hopeful note with a headline that wondered, "Can he win it all?"

The AOL article summarized the current situation among Democratic hopefuls this way: "...now Buttigieg is one of the few remaining Democrats with a path to victory, a path that is getting clearer day by day."

AOL.com went on to bolster its enthusiasm by pointing out that:

...there are two reasons they should take it seriously. First, Murray is widely considered one of the best pollsters in the business; according to Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, Monmouth is one of only six "A+" rated polling outfits currently surveying American public opinion. Second, Monmouth isn't the only poll showing a Buttigieg surge where it matters most, in key early states.

The other recent polls also reflecting a Buttigieg surge are Quinnipiac (Nov. 6) and New York Times/Siena College (Nov. 1), AOL.com reported, going on to add: "All three show Buttigieg in either first or second place, and together they have established a clear trend line in the overall Iowa polling average."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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