It has been less than three months since Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, Ind.) and his fans were celebrating him being on the cover of Time magazine just two weeks after he was New York Magazine‘s flattering cover story. He followed that up with a fundraising win for the second quarter, but things have been a bit quiet around him recently.
Political fortunes are notoriously fickle but even more so in a presidential primary that features an unprecedented number of candidates.
While Mayor Pete is by no means out of this race, his polling numbers haven’t followed his big cash haul and he’s not quite the media darling he was heading into the summer.
After a meteoric rise in the 2020 race, signs are emerging that Pete Buttigieg’s momentum may be stalling out.
The South Bend, Ind., mayor’s polling numbers have remained relatively flat in recent weeks, hovering between 4 and 7 percent in most surveys. And he has started facing tougher questions during public appearances, including about his struggle to build a following among black voters and his handling of a police-involved shooting in his hometown.
The article also notes the difference between being the flavor of the moment and being able to become a taste the electorate wants to savor for a long time.
American presidential primaries are ultra-marathons. Mayor Pete did very well in the springtime sprint, and that’s not to be dismissed. Still, Buttigieg need look no further than his Democratic rival from Texas, Beto O’Rourke, to see how little the short-term means.
Continuing the running analogy, O’Rourke practically set a world record in the 100-meter dash when he entered the race. He even had a big magazine cover story of his own in Vanity Fair.
All of that happened about a month before the mainstream media’s love affair with Buttigieg began. A couple of weeks after that, it was plain to everyone that Mayor Pete was the new Beto.
Heading into the second round of debates, The Washington Post wonders if O’Rourke is already in a make-or-break situation.
If Buttigieg doesn’t knock one out of the park during the next debate he could find himself hot on Beto’s fading heels.
If he spends his money wisely he may be able to hang around long enough to make a pitch for being the midwesterner that the Dems need somewhere on the ticket.