Election 2020

'Mayor Pete' Is the Democratic Frontrunner Right Now

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Yes, I know. I know. Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. (D-Dementiaville) is leading the RealClearPolitics national polling average, 12 points ahead of Bernie Sanders (S-USSR), Elizabeth Warren (D-1/1024th of a Plan), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Church of Social Justice). But the entire country does not vote at one time in the Democratic primary. In the first two early states, Mayor Pete is ahead of the pack.

In Iowa, Buttigieg leads with 24 percent, with Sanders (18.3 percent), Warren (17.7 percent), and Joe Biden (16.3 percent) falling behind. Mayor Pete’s New Hampshire lead is smaller, but Buttigieg (20 percent) still beats Sanders (17 percent), Warren (14.3 percent), and Biden (13.7 percent). With less than two months until the Iowa caucuses, a Mayor Pete double-win is quite plausible.

In the latest version of their “power rankings,” CNN’s Chris Cilizza and Harry Enten put Buttigieg in second place behind Biden.

Biden has held a consistent lead in national polls and he enjoys firm leads in Nevada and South Carolina, the next two states after Iowa and New Hampshire. Even so, the Iowa caucuses tend to set the theme for a primary, so a Buttigieg win in the Hawkeye state could really shake up the race. After Barack Obama won Iowa in 2008, black voters flocked to his campaign, helping him win the nomination. Black voters are firmly in Biden’s camp right now, but many believe Biden the most electable. If Buttigieg pulls off a convincing win in Iowa and a close win in New Hampshire, they may reconsider their support for Obama’s VP.

Some have suggested that since Iowa and New Hampshire have fewer black voters, they should not carry as much weight as they traditionally do in this Democratic primary. That seems more an aspirational statement than a prediction, however. Momentum from the early states comes, in part, due to the perception of electability. As of now, most Democrats consider Biden the most electable. Should Mayor Pete prevail in both the early states, that calculus will change — especially if Biden takes fourth place in both contests.

On Thursday, Buttigieg’s campaign reported endorsements from three former Obama officials: Reggie Love, former special assistant to the president; Austin Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; and Linda Douglass, former director of communications for the White House Office of Health Reform.

Meanwhile, Obama’s second Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed Biden — an endorsement that may strengthen the former VP but may also draw more attention to Hunter Biden’s corrupt cash-ins on his father’s political influence.

Buttigieg has his problems, and he will struggle to hold on to the leading position in Iowa and New Hampshire. As of October, his campaign had more cash on hand ($19.2 million) than Biden’s ($15.7 million), but far less than Sanders’ ($28 million) and Warren’s ($24.7 million). Sanders and Warren may overtake Mayor Pete in New Hampshire, since they represent close states.

Yet Buttigieg has a strong position in the Democratic race at the moment. Party leaders are losing their faith in Joe Biden, and while former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Who?) and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D-Taxing the Poor for Their Own Good) are newly angling to replace him, Buttigieg has a better chance. He’s not as crazy as Bernie Sanders and he’s not as slimy as Elizabeth Warren — and he’s nowhere near as gaffe-prone as Joe Biden. Mayor Pete also leads in the social justice — but not socialist — lane, now that Kamala Harris (D-Prosecuting Pro-Lifers) has finally put an end to her failing campaign.

Mayor Pete may not win the nomination. He may crash and burn before Iowa. He may win Iowa but fail to unseat Biden. But at the current time, he is arguably the frontrunner.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.