Since polling at exactly 0% in January, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, has jumped into third place according to the latest poll of Iowa Democratic Caucus voters. In recent weeks, Buttigieg surpassed the threshold needed in building a donor base to secure a spot at the first Democratic primary debate set for June. With this poll, showing him in third place behind a yet-to-declare Joe Biden, and a popular Bernie Sanders, look for his stock to continue rising as voters learn his name and learn his story.
Report on the latest Emerson College poll of Iowa Democratic caucus voters via The Hill:
South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) surged into third place in a poll of the Iowa caucus released Sunday.
Eleven percent of likely Democratic Iowa caucusgoers surveyed by Emerson Polling said they would pick Buttigieg to be their 2020 presidential nominee.
Overall, Buttigieg placed third behind Former Vice President Joe Biden, at 25 percent, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), at 24 percent.
The only other candidate to receive double-digit support was Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who was the choice for 10 percent of respondents.
“The biggest surprise in this poll is Mayor Pete, last week we saw him inching up in our national poll, and now he’s in double digits in Iowa, America is going to be asking who is ‘Mayor Pete’?” Spencer Kimball, director of the Emerson Poll, said.
Buttigieg, who has formed an exploratory committee but has not officially declared, was polling at 0 percent in Emerson’s January survey of Iowa, which shows his recognition and support have grown significantly in the last few months.
The Indiana mayor’s campaign cleared the donations threshold to participate in presidential debates earlier this month.
Buttigieg, unlike the top names in this poll, is comparably very young, at just 39 years old. He stands in stark contrast to much of the field in that his career is still budding and his name is unknown at a national level.
As CNN says in a story out today, “Pete Buttigieg is having a moment”:
Buoyed by positive reviews for the South Bend mayor’s performance at an hour-long CNN town hall earlier this month and a steady stream of well received appearances on TV, Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential exploratory committee has felt a sustained surge of momentum over the past two weeks. The once little-known mayor is getting recognized across the country, while his committee has mapped out plans to double in size in the coming weeks as a steady stream of new donations flood to the 37-year-old Democrat.
It’s been an eye-opening experience for Buttigieg, a mild-mannered candidate who seems allergic to bragging.
“It’s heady,” Buttigieg said in an interview with CNN. “And it has happened very quickly.”
Buttigieg’s fundraising still trails what is known about candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and he has yet to see a boost in national or state level polling, but the news has been welcomed by the mayor, who started the campaign with little to no national name recognition and significantly smaller crowds in key states.
“The good news is it means the more people that see our message, the more it resonates,” he said. “Because what I said in the town hall is no different than what I’ve been saying all along, it’s just that more people saw it.”
His stock will continue to rise in coming weeks until Biden’s impending announcement in April knocks some wind out of the entire field.
The question is whether Buttigieg can capture this momentum and cement a spot beyond the flatline candidates, build out his fundraising, and become a serious competitor for the nomination.
One good primary poll does not a trend make, but it could be an indicator of the beginning of a trend. Watch for more polls out in the coming weeks and keep an eye on where Buttigieg is sitting. Will he similarly rise in New Hampshire and South Carolina? This could indicate that his “moment” is happening, but maybe it’s happening too soon.
Throughout the lengthy primary, candidates seem to rise and fall as they catch fire with voters. The 2012 Republican primary was a great example where week to week a new candidate seemed to hold the top spot, only to be toppled by the next new flavor coming up behind them.
For Buttigieg, his baggage is light and his name is fresh. Sitting at a total lack of national name recognition only leaves him one direction to go. Up!