- The Magazine
Pete Buttigieg has topped a new poll in Iowa, besting his main rivals and cementing his position as a top-tier candidate in the state.
The South Bend, Ind. mayor is supported by 22% of 451 likely caucusgoers in the Monmouth University poll, released Tuesday.
Buttigieg, the first viable openly gay candidate for president, has jumped 14 points since August, when he was polling at 8%, according to Monmouth.
The results put Buttigieg firmly in the top tier of candidates in the state, leading former Vice President Joe Biden (19%) and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (18%) and Bernie Sanders (13%).
The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4.6%, so while Buttigieg technically leads, he, Warren, and Biden are effectively tied at the top.
Montmouth also found that Buttigieg has the highest favorability rating among Democratic candidates, with 73% favorable and 10% unfavorable rating (+63), an identical rating to Montmouth’s August poll.
Second is Warren, with a 69%-23% rating (+46, down from +62 in August), with Biden in third on 65%-26% (+39, down from +52).
The poll brought bad news for Sen. Kamala Harris, who has slipped from 12% support in Iowa in August to 3% in November, with a drop in favorability from +55 in August to +25 now (50% favorable, 25% unfavorable).
It also casts doubt on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to enter the 2020 race. He has a net unfavorable rating of -31, with only 17% of Iowan caucusgoers having a favorable view of him.
Bloomberg was added to the poll on the second day of its five-day period, and currently has support from less than 1% of Iowans in the Feb. 3 caucus.
Buttigieg has risen dramatically since first announcing an exploratory committee for president in January.
The mayor, who recently helped elect the man who will succeed him as mayor in South Bend, is currently polling in fourth place nationally, behind Biden, Warren, and Sanders, and ahead of Harris, according to Real Clear Politics‘ tracker.
However, Buttigieg’s campaign has struggled to gain support among African-American voters, a key Democratic demographic.
He is currently polling at 1% among black voters in South Carolina, where they comprise over 60% of the Democratic electorate.
Not helping matters was the release of a report from focus groups conducted on African American voters in the state for Buttigieg’s campaign which found a number of reservations about him, including low name recognition, concerns about his youth, and noting that he lacked “passion, anger, and ‘pizzaz.’”
The headline item was a finding that “being gay was a barrier for these voters” — though the report also noted that Buttigieg’s sexuality was not a “disqualifier.”
Buttigieg’s campaign later tried to distance itself from the report, with traveling press secretary Nina Smith tweeting that the “campaign doesn’t buy into the homophobia narrative floating out there.”
Sen. Kamala Harris rejected the notion that black voters would be less likely to vote for Buttigieg because he is gay, calling it a “trope that has evolved among some Democrats.”
“[T]o suggest that African-Americans are homophobic or that there [is] transphobia in the black community as a community,” she continued. “That’s just nonsense.”
She added: “The reality is that, sadly and unfortunately, in all communities bias occurs, and in particular homophobia and transphobia — I’ve spent my entire career fighting against it, so I know it is a fact. But to label one community in particular as being burdened by this bias — as compared to others — is misinformed, it’s misdirected, and it’s just simply wrong.”
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