Score one for the centrists.
“Mayor Pete” has taken a commanding lead among Iowa’s likely Democratic caucusgoers, surging an incredible 16 points since September.
25% now say Buttigieg is their first choice for president, the latest Des Moines Register/ CNN/ Mediacom Iowa Poll shows. Elizabeth Warren slipped to 16%, while Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders logged 15% each.
As documented in these pages extensively earlier this month, America is starting to give Mayor Pete a serious look.
A well-spoken veteran, Buttigieg appeals to those hoping to avoid a situation where the nation is forced to choose between a far-left candidate and four more years of tragicomedic fascism under an increasingly unhinged Donald Trump, who is almost sure to be impeached, but not convicted or removed from office.
Buttigieg called the Iowa poll results “extremely encouraging” during remarks to reporters in California on Saturday evening. “We have felt a lot of momentum on the ground”, he added.
“This is the first poll that shows Buttigieg as a stand-alone front-runner”, J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll remarked. “There have been four candidates that have sort of jostled around in a pack together, but he has a sizable lead over the nearest contender – 9 points. So this is a new status for him”.
It sure is, and it will come as a relief to those who have become increasingly concerned about the populist appeal of Elizabeth Warren who, in addition to having a 5,000+-word plan for every agenda item, has a Trump-like penchant for feeding off would-be critics. “There’s really not a damn thing you can do about Warren”, one prominent hedge fund manager and Democratic bundler told Politico earlier this month. “If you say anything about [her] you just make her stronger”.
And yet, somehow, Buttigieg’s centrist message is resonating in an environment where both parties have been pulled to the poles. He was fourth in the Register poll in September, but since then, he’s doubled his staff and opened nearly two-dozen offices.
Warren’s 16% showing in the November poll represents a 6 point drop from September, when she was the frontrunner.
On Friday, Barack Obama weighed in on the primary and on the state of the Democratic party more generally. Speaking to a relative handful of rich liberal donors in Washington, Obama warned Democrats about going “too far left”, and cautioned that Independents, moderate Republicans and even some Democratic voters aren’t on board with “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party”.
“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality”, he chided. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it”.
It was a rather obvious shot at Warren and Sanders, but it could just as easily be aimed at Ocasio-Cortez and other, younger icons of the progressive movement.
He didn’t endorse anyone on Friday other than Stacey Abrams, who interviewed him (and who isn’t running, much to the chagrin of her fans). “I love me some Stacey Abrams”, Obama said.
Anyway, Iowa voters “love them some Mayor Pete”, or at least for this month they do.
“More respondents – 30% now, compared with 20% in September – say they have a first choice and their minds are made up”, the Register notes, adding that there’s still “ample opportunity for more surges and slides in the two-and-a-half months before the caucuses: 62% say they have a first choice but could still be persuaded, 1% are unsure and 7% have not made a first choice”.