Remember this poll we analyzed last week? It wasn't a fluke. One of the most respected public opinion surveys in Iowa now shows South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg bouncing out to a clear lead in the Hawkeye State, roughly two-and-a-half months out from the first in the nation presidential caucuses. Monmouth showed Mayor Pete with a small edge, within the margin of error. Then this one dropped over the weekend:
Just posted...— Yashar Ali ?? (@yashar) November 17, 2019
Des Moines Register/CNN poll
Pete is out front by a healthy distance, with the so-called 'big three' neck-and-neck for second place. For more interesting internals, read Allahpundit's deep dive into the numbers This is obviously great news for the Buttigieg campaign overall, but Rich Lowry isn't wrong about the perils of peaking too soon and giving opponents an opportunity to react:
Good news for Buttigieg: Looks like he’s now the fronrunner in Iowa.— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) November 17, 2019
Bad news for Buttigieg: Everyone else has fair warning to spend the next couple of months tearing him down https://t.co/2d51LVMIDu
Nobody has really taken any shots at Buttigieg during the campaign, aside from the recently-departed Beto O'Rourke (who apparently doesn't think too hard about messages on hats before he puts them on). That's going to change. We've heard some whinging and griping on background about his nerdy know-it-all-ism, but he's mostly operated in an attack-free zone. I suspect we'll start hearing more about his inexperience managing anything beyond a small city, some of the racial flare-ups in that city, and the seemingly calculated shifts in his political image -- from 'progressive' to 'moderate.' Meanwhile, he hasn't been afraid to throw a few sharp elbows, especially at Elizabeth Warren, on the issue of healthcare. Warren has shifted her single-payer policy in recent days, rolling out a tweaked plan that would extend the transition period, delaying the coercive outlawing of private insurance (which she still supports). Buttigieg, who's been harping on her proposal for weeks, pounced:
Brutal.— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) November 15, 2019
Buttigieg camp reacts to new revised Warren health care plan. pic.twitter.com/D9xxp4HvFA
Bernie now has an opening to ding Warren from her left on healthcare, while Buttigieg and Biden rap her from the center (although here's a reminder of why Mayor Pete's healthcare plan is also effectively a plan for single-payer). Relatedly, Buttigieg's "my way or the highway" language about Warren's attitude mirrors a line of criticism Biden has launched against the Massachusetts Senator. Is Pete forming an informal alliance with the former Vice President, or making a play for his voters, based on the hope or expectation that Biden will eventually collapse? This race is fluid and there's still a long way to go before any votes are cast, but let's say that Buttigieg prevails in Iowa. Who would that hurt the most? Theoretically, it could be Biden, as Democratic voters start to seriously consider the viability of a younger center-left option.
But it could also be Warren. If she managed to sweep Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden's 'wait til South Carolina' strategy could falter badly, thanks to negative momentum for him, and a frontrunner/bandwagon effect for her. But if the early contests deliver split verdicts, Biden would remain firmly in the game. And while Buttigieg is well-positioned to do well in heavily white states like Iowa and New Hampshire, his glaring weakness with voters of color could expose him as an unsustainable phenomenon, especially once black voters in particular start to shape the process. Stay tuned for some jabs at Pete during this week's debate, and his counter-punches. I'll leave you with this...unhelpful, self-inflicted wound, as well as another new Iowa poll:
Yesterday Pete Buttigieg put out a list of 400 Black South Carolinians that endorse him/his plan.— Rachel R. Gonzalez (@RachelRGonzalez) November 16, 2019
-A lot of the people are confused because they didn’t endorse.
-42 percent of the list is white.
-They used stock photos from Kenya.
Yet we have heard nothing from his campaign.