With the Iowa Democratic primary election just around the corner, candidates are scrambling for the finish line, making every little last-ditch effort they can to prove they are worthy of the nomination. And for former Sound Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg, time is most definitely of the essence.
As of right now, the polls put Pete in third place with 17% behind both Joe Biden at 22% and Bernie Sanders, who is leading with 25%, according to Real Clear Politics. But, as you well know, that could all change in an instant. And nothing is final until the votes are officially cast and then counted. And this year could prove to be rather interesting in Iowa, making it possible for more than one winner to emerge from the state.
This is because the Iowa Democratic Party issued a new set of result-reporting rules after complaints about the 2016 election.
As the Daily Iowan reports, “The party will release three different metrics for candidates’ support on Feb. 3 – a raw total of caucusgoer support, a second reshuffling, and the final state delegate equivalents. With a handful of Democrats jockeying at around 20 percent support in the most recent Iowa Poll, there’s a possibility that different candidates could win each measure of support.”
This means that for just about anyone in the top five, some sort of victory is possible, giving them further momentum to move on to New Hampshire. At the bottom of that five, Amy Klobuchar’s chances are slim indeed, but not wholly mute, and neither is Elizabeth Warren’s, who sits a distant fourth place behind Buttigieg.
And if Buttigieg doesn’t win at least one of these new metrics, it could mean the end for him. After all, his claim is that he a more moderate and electable choice than Bernie but a younger and more flexible option than Biden. But if Sanders wins in Iowa and then again in New Hampshire, what would be the point of continuing on with that claim.
This fear of a Sanders win is precisely why Buttigieg’s last days before the Iowa election are being spent on the attack against the Vermont senator.
The first plan of action is to convince donors and voters that Bernie is simply too extreme to be able to beat President Donald Trump in the general election. Buttigieg is playing on the fact that Bernie would be the beginning of a new era in America, one that thinks outside of the box a bit.
But as he points out in some of his recent emails, Trump already does that. And he does it well. Therefore, Pete argues that Sanders won’t really be making a difference.
Pete’s second idea is to sway would-be Trump voters to his side. Buttigieg, like Trump, realizes that no election will be won based solely on one party but that voters from both, as well as independents, will be critical. So while obviously going for Democrats of all kinds, he is also running with “disaffected” Republicans and conservatives in mind.
CNN reports that the former Indiana mayor plans to spend the few days he has left in Iowa in towns and counties that Trump flipped in 2016, such as Boone, Webster, and Wapello counties.
In addition, he will make an appearance on a Fox News town hall on Sunday in Des Moines, “hoping the platform on Trump’s favorite cable outlet will reach some voters who helped him win the White House.”
Buttigieg’s campaign will also be running a new line of ads geared towards five counties in the state that Trump won in 2016. The ads will mention the margin by which Trump won and how Pete plans to win them back, according to CNN.
But it’s not clear that either strategy will work for Buttigieg. After all, Bernie Bros around the country have made it a point to outcast and ridicule anyone who would go after their precious candidate, making it unlikely that they would trade him in for a more moderate option.
As for Republicans and Trump supporters, the most recent Gallup Poll says that Trump has 88% of the party’s support, one of the highest seen in quite a while for any president. Even among independents, he has 37%. So I don’t really see many of these people suddenly changing sides, especially for someone with as limited experience and differing opinions as Buttigieg.