In just six short days Iowa will hold its Democrat caucuses. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?
Pete Buttigieg has experienced being at the top of the polls as well as in spots further down the polls. As I write this Tuesday morning, according to Real Clear Politics, Mayor Pete is in third place in Iowa. Bernie Sanders is the frontrunner with 25%, Joe Biden is at 22%, and Buttigieg is at 17%. If all of that holds, which is not at all a certainty given the history of this primary season, Buttigieg will be able to claim one of the three tickets out of Iowa and be able to justify carrying on with his campaign.
As a matter of fact, this year due to changes in the caucus rules, more candidates may be able to take a victory lap and sprint off to New Hampshire for the first primary.
On Feb. 3, 2020, more than one Democratic presidential hopeful could declare themselves the “winner” of the Iowa caucuses because of new result-reporting rules of the Iowa Democratic Party.
The rules, which were meant to add transparency to the Iowa Democratic caucus process after complaints in 2016, could muddle the results in media reporting and allow candidates to make competing claims for momentum out of Iowa.
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.
So, that means that Elizabeth Warren in fourth place at 13.5% today might also be able to claim a decent victory. Amy Klobuchar is desperately trying to convince voters that she’s going to finish strong in Iowa but she’s currently at 8.5%, quite a drop from the top candidates. Bernie, frankly, is looking really strong right now and he is the one the others should take aim at. Pete Buttigieg is doing that this week.
He has a two-prong strategy – scare voters with Bernie’s extremism and the possibility that he’ll win the caucuses. He tells voters that Sanders won’t beat Trump in the general election. And Buttigieg is courting Trump supporters.
The campaign is spending their final days blasting texts and emails to donors raising the possibility of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders winning the nomination, but failing to beat President Donald Trump.
“Bernie Sanders is raising tons of money, he’s surging in the polls, and he has dark money groups attacking his competitors,” read one recent email. “If things stay steady until the Iowa Caucuses in just nine days, Bernie Sanders could be the nominee of our party.”
He plays on the theme of turning the page, ushering in new leadership in Washington, D.C. The problem for Democrats running on new ideas, and able to think outside the box is that President Trump has already beaten them to it. He released his final ad for the Iowa caucuses Monday.
To be honest, it is a smart idea to go after Trump voters. Bernie Sanders, by the way, is also doing that. Just last night I received a text message from the Sanders campaign asking for my support. This is where I remind you that I live in Texas and have been a registered Republican since I first registered to vote. Sorry, Bernie, it ain’t happening. Trump wisely ran in 2016 with moderate Democrat voters in mind, as well as Republicans and conservatives. Buttigieg understands that no candidate is going to win a national election with the support of only one party’s loyal supporters. Independents are more important than ever, too. Mayor Pete is looking for “disaffected Republicans” to drag him over the finish line.
This messaging will manifest itself both in Buttigieg schedule over his final week in Iowa — the candidate will headline events in Webster, Boone and Wapello counties, all of which flipped to Trump in 2016 — as well as their decision to headline 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.
The campaign will also begin to run a slate of new digital ads aimed at building support in places Trump won in 2016, including a series of 15-second ads that will highlight five Iowa counties that Trump won in 2016 — Appanoose, Henry, Marion, Warren and Washington — and Buttigieg’s pitch to win them back. The ads feature the margin that Trump won the county by and why the campaign believes Buttigieg can win.
Reaching Trump voters is also a reason given for Buttigieg doing a town hall with Chris Wallace on Sunday. “Pete is going everywhere and meeting everyone. This is how we win.” His campaign knows that if Buttigieg doesn’t finish in the top two spots in Iowa and New Hampshire, especially if he loses to Biden, his run for president is likely over. If Biden finishes after Sanders in both Iowa and New Hampshire, as very well may happen, then there is no need for Buttigieg to continue and claim to be the moderate, more electable choice to counter Bernie’s far-left socialist agenda.
The number one goal for Democrat voters is to defeat President Trump. Buttigieg is playing the electability card. Courting Republicans, though, may not be such fertile ground for him. Trump’s support among Republicans has remained high throughout his presidency. Frankly, I’ve never seen the party so unified in its support for a Republican president. According to the latest Gallup Poll, he’s got 88% support from Republicans and 37% support from Independents.
We’ll see soon enough how this all pans out for Mayor Pete. It looks like Bernie’s to lose, though.