SOUTH BEND, IN – For a candidate who was polling at a mere 8.4% six months ago, it’s hard to believe that South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is now, as claimed by cable news outlets, the democratic party frontrunner polling at 8.0% nationally, according to RealClear Politics’ aggregate polling data.
“What a difference half a year makes.” said fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver, adding “In May, Mayor Pete was polling in the single digits, but after spending over $27 Million, much of it in Iowa, he’s now polling at almost 8%. Biden, Warren, and Sanders are only polling at 26%, 21% and 18% respectively.”
Buttigieg’s surge is a result of a Monmouth University Poll conducted between November 7th and 11th showing the candidate with a staggering 22% support in Iowa, compared with 19% for former Vice President Joe Biden and 18% for Senator Elizabeth Warren. Sanders came in at a distant fourth at 13%.
According to CNN political commentator Chris Cillizza, Buttigieg’s surge isn’t unexpected, telling BeetPress “Americans are clamoring for a President who is going to bring much needed calm to the White House and not much else. People don’t want their taxes going up on income over a billion dollars, they don’t want healthcare, they don’t want a Green New Deal, and Mayor Pete is speaking their language. Two weeks ago, he was at a dismal 7.7%, but after reassuring weary Americans that he’d be a continuation of Obama’s presidency, he’s shot up to the top tier, knocking Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Corey Booker down to below 5%.
Although Buttigieg has been crowned the new frontrunner by cable news pundits, many are quick to point out that the entry of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might shake up the primaries.
“Mayor Pete is in a comfortable position now, but voting doesn’t start for almost three months, and it’s easy to imagine a Hillary Clinton or a Michael Bloomberg jumping in and taking that top spot,” commented MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, adding “especially if any of them commit to including Stacey Abrams on their ticket.”
While it seemed unlikely months ago, Buttigieg’s surge to the top of the race isn’t unprecedented. In 1988, Dick Gephardt won the Iowa Caucus with 31% of the vote, and in 1992, Tom Harkin stunned the nation when he achieved a historic Iowa victory with 76%. The best case for Buttigieg would be a replay of the 2004 election where John Kerry wowed Democrats with a 38% Iowa win, secured the nomination, and lost the presidency to George W. Bush.