When New Hampshire holds its primary next year, only Iowa will have decided in their caucuses who they like for the Democratic nomination. It’s an important early state and the first primary, making it a popular early destination for candidates vying for the spot. As a New England state, it’s generally dominated in early polls by someone also from the region and this year is no exception with the Senator from neighboring Vermont, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading the most recent poll by a large margin.
Coming in second is former Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to officially announce his candidacy this week. But the real surprise comes from distant Indiana where upstart South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has surged past Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren (whose home state of Massachusetts also borders New Hampshire) to come within the margin of error of Biden.
In fact, Buttigieg ranked higher than O’Rourke, Harris, Booker, and Warren… combined.
As I noted last week, conservatives better start paying attention to Buttigieg. You can be sure the other Democratic candidates are. From obscurity, his campaign has made amazing strides over the last month to get his name not only in the conversation, but in many ways dominating it. He may be a better Beto than Beto as his likability comes without the tarnish of a recent election loss and a criminal record. As Beto’s campaign seems to be crumbling, Buttigieg is rising.
He could just be a flash in the pan. We’ve seen candidates rise and fall quickly over the years. Since not much is known about him, the interest could simply be the newness factor. There could be dirt floating around in his past that simply hasn’t been surfaced yet. Fatigue could set in with his name popping up everywhere lately. There’s always a chance with any candidate that they fall even faster than they rise.
But I don’t think so. If I were forced to put money on any candidate right now with even odds, I’d put it on Buttigieg winning the nomination.
His credentials make up for his lack of national government experience. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard before becoming a Rhodes Scholar. He served in Afghanistan as a naval intelligence officer. He speaks half a dozen languages. And though he’s a Caucasian male, he can do what Beto, Biden, and Bernie can’t do: check off a favored status box. Buttigieg is gay.
It isn’t just his resume that makes me put him as my early favorite. His way of speaking, of working the crowd, and of coming across as sincere reminds me of a guy I saw in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention. At the time, very few had heard of him but when I watched him speak, I thought he would be a contender if he decided to run for President in 2008. I’m sure you guessed that I’m referring to Barack Obama. Beto might have the looks to match, but Buttigieg has the charisma that’s a closer approximation of Obama’s than Beto or anyone else in the field.
If Bernie, Biden, or Beto get the nomination, I wouldn’t worry too much. If Harris or Warren get the nod, the female factor will play better than it did in 2016. But Buttigieg is a real threat to the President. Republicans need to take note now.