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Ed mentioned this poll in passing in his Zuckerberg post earlier but it deserves its own thread. I’ve overlooked Buttigieg in writing about the primary because we (or at least I) tend to focus on national polls as the best rough measure of the race even though we (er, I) understand that there’s no national primary. There are a series of state primaries, they’re held in a very particular order, and how well one does in the first three or four contests strongly influences one’s chances at winning the nomination. Look at Buttigieg’s national polling and you’ll find a candidate who’s distinguished himself enough to escape the race’s populous bottom tier but who’s never gained enough momentum to crack the top tier. Mayor Pete is a four-percent candidate when he’s polling badly and a seven- or eight-percent candidate when he’s polling better, but it’s been many months since he touched double digits. He just doesn’t seem like a threat to Warren, Biden, Sanders.
In Iowa, where Buttigieg is devoting most of his energy, the story is different. It hasn’t gotten much attention but he’s been in double digits in five of the last six polls taken there. In three of those polls he’s outperformed Bernie Sanders, who came within a whisker of winning Iowa in 2016. The catch is that, even though his polling in Iowa is stronger than it is elsewhere, he hadn’t quite entered the top tier there either. He’s now reliably in the 14-percent range but either Biden or Warren or both had always polled in the low 20s. It is — or was — a two-person race with Buttigieg a potentially dangerous dark horse.
Until today, that is. This USA Today/Suffolk poll has the race essentially a complete toss-up, with enough uncertainty among caucusgoers to hold every last contender under 20 percent.
The poll, taken Wednesday through Friday, put Biden at 18%, Warren at 17% and Buttigieg at 13% among 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers…
At 37, Buttigieg is the youngest contender in the field, and he is the first openly gay candidate to seek the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. He has gained ground through strong performances in the Democratic debates: Among those surveyed who watched the debate last Tuesday, 4 in 10 said Buttigieg was the candidate who did better than they expected…
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