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Pete Buttigieg is on the move in the Democratic primary. On Monday, a Quinnipiac poll showed the South Bend, Ind., mayor in contention in New Hampshire, where Biden leads at 20 percent, just a few points ahead of Warren (16 percent), Buttigieg (15 percent), and Sanders (14 percent). On Tuesday, a Monmouth survey showed Buttigieg leading in Iowa for the first time this year: At 22 percent, Buttigieg was a few points ahead of Joe Biden (19 percent) and Elizabeth Warren (18 percent).
The Democratic nomination remains very much up for grabs, but a big question hanging over Buttigieg’s head is whether he can make sufficient inroads with African-American primary voters to capture the nomination.
Black voters make up about a quarter of the Democratic primary electorate, but two thirds of South Carolina primary voters are black, and Buttigieg remains stuck in the single digits in the Palmetto State. A Monmouth poll of South Carolina conducted after the October Democratic debate, where Buttigieg went toe-to-toe with Elizabeth Warren and won, pegged the mayor’s support at 3 percent, while a Change Research poll conducted at the same time showed Buttigieg at 9 percent.
Buttigieg’s weakness in South Carolina is partly a function of the fact that Joe Biden, former vice president to America’s first black president, retains a commanding lead among black voters. But Buttigieg’s weakness is also partly a function of his sexual orientation, as David Catanese reported in The State last month: “Internal focus groups conducted by Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign this summer reveal a possible reason why he is struggling with African-American voters: some see his sexuality as a problem.”
“I’ll go ahead and say it,” one African-American man said in a focus group. “I don’t like the fact that he threw out there that he lives with his husband.”
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