Pete Buttigieg: from outsider to a leader

By Gatien Delaunay

Three-months away from the Iowa Caucuses, current Mayor of South Bend, IN, Pete Buttigieg leads the way in the latest polls.

According to the Des Moines Register’s latest poll, Pete Buttigieg jumped up to first place in the democratic primary race in Iowa, meaning around 25% of democrats designated Buttigieg as their first choice. Elizabeth Warren is the second most popular choice in the state of Iowa, receiving 16% of the votes. She is closely followed by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, as they both obtained 15% of the votes. This “Big 4” neatly dominates the poll, as the candidate after Biden and Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, received 6% of the votes.

RealClearPolitics released a poll that combines surveys published by eight newspapers including the NY Times, CNN, and The Des Moines Register. The data corroborates the trends drawn by the Des Moines Register poll, with the exception that the differences within the first four candidates are lower and the gap with the rest of the candidates is even more pronounced. The graph, issued by RealClearPolitics, traces the change in popularity rating of Democratic primary candidates in Iowa. It is interesting to note the progress made by Warren, with an increase of 8.8% between March and November 2019. On the other hand, Biden and Sanders have experienced a decrease in popularity since March, as they lost respectively 10.4 and 2.8% of the intended voices. But the most impressive progress comes from Buttigieg, who had only 1% of the votes on March 21 and is now the first choice, claiming 21% of the potential voters — an increase of 20%.

Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus, RealClearPolitics

Why such a rise in popularity for candidate Buttigieg? The NY Times recently reported that since last September, when he reached fourth place in the polls, he also decided to intensify his political campaign in Iowa. He has “more than doubled his on-the-ground staff to over 100 and has opened more than 20 field offices,” which permits him to have “one of the largest on-the-ground operations in the state,” according to CNN.

CNN also reported that “63% of likely caucusgoers think his views are about right” and “only 7% say his views are too liberal, while 13% feel they’re too conservative.” Second place goes to Biden with 55% of people who think that his political opinions are right in the middle, while Sanders is perceived as too liberal by 53% of likely caucusgoers. The current Mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg, is perceived as the most moderate candidate, strengthening these primary elections and pushing toward the main objective: to elect the candidate who will most likely defeat Donald Trump in November 2020. 

However, compared to other Democrat candidates, Buttigieg tends to be more conservative. As reported by the Canadian newspaper Le Journal de Québec, the young Democrat is the only one among the candidates to promote his religious beliefs and one of the only two candidates — with Tulsi Gabbard — to have served his country militarily. On the Health Care issue, Buttigieg departs from liberal candidates such as Sanders or Warren who support Medicare for all. Indeed, he believes that the private sector has a role to play:

I would call it Medicare for all who want it. You make it available on the exchanges, people can buy in. If people like us are right, that will be not only a more inclusive plan, but a more efficient plan, then it will be a very natural glide path to the single-payer environment. But let’s remember, even in countries that have socialized medicine there’s still a private sector. It’s just that for our primary care, we can’t be relying on the tender mercies of the corporate system

Democrat candidate Pete Buttigieg declared during the second night of the first Democratic debate on June 27, 2019. 

Buttigieg’s performances in Iowa put him above other candidates; the national level’s latest surveys show him having around 6% of the votes, whereas Biden and Sanders are at the top of the ranking — 19% each — and Warren obtains around 13% of the votes. In addition, the fact that candidate Buttigieg has no other political experience than being Mayor of South Bend might influence some voters when they find themselves in front of the ballot boxes next year. 


Pfannenstiel, Brianne. “Iowa Poll: Pete Buttigieg Rockets to the Top of the 2020 Field as a Clear Front-Runner.” Des Moines Register, November 16, 2019.

Rachael Dottle, Aaron Bycoffe, and Julia Wolfe. “National 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary Polls.” FiveThirtyEight, April 22, 2019.

Laliberté, Luc. “Pete Buttigieg Effectue Une Percée En Iowa.” Le Journal de Québec, November 13, 2019.

Ember, Sydney. “Pete Buttigieg Jumps Out to Lead in Iowa Poll.” The New York Times, November 16, 2019, sec. U.S.

OnTheIssues. “Pete Buttigieg on Health Care.” Accessed November 17, 2019.

Burlij, Terence. “Pete Buttigieg Surges to First Place in Iowa, New Poll Shows.” CNN, November 16, 2019.

“RealClearPolitics – Election 2020 – Iowa Democratic Presidential Caucus.” Accessed November 17, 2019. /epolls/2020/president/ia/iowa_democratic_presidential_caucus-6731.html

Google+ Linkedin

Leave a Reply