Buttigieg Tops New Hampshire Field

By Jim Ellis

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Dec. 13, 2019 — It has been clear for some time that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is making a strong move in Iowa, perfectly understandable for a candidate hailing from the Midwest; but could an Iowa-New Hampshire sweep be in the forecast for the upstart national contender?

A new MassInc poll for WBUR radio, the public news station in Boston, finds Mayor Buttigieg, for the first time, posting a small lead in the Granite State. The survey (Dec. 3-8; 442 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) gives Buttigieg a slight 18-17-15-12 percent edge over former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), respectively, as a clear four-way race is beginning to crystallize for the first-in-the-nation primary.

The latest Iowa Caucus public polling, from Nov. 8 – Dec. 10 through four different survey research firms (Selzer & Company, YouGov, Civiqs, and Emerson College), finds Mayor Buttigieg either leading or tied in three of the studies.

Should such a trend come to fruition in February, we would see the underpinnings of not only Buttigieg becoming a legitimate contender, but a serious national four-way contest taking shape.

The New Hampshire poll is significant not only because it reveals a state base for Buttigieg but also finds that neither New England stalwart politicians Sanders nor Warren have clinched the state, as one might surmise. It was only four years ago when Sen. Sanders posted a 60 percent victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic New Hampshire presidential primary. At this point, now exactly two months from the Granite State primary vote, it would be reasonable to believe that both would be doing better than the MassInc survey and other recent polls suggest.

The MassInc/WBUR poll also provides another key data point. Despite former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s major media spending, apparently on a national basis, his favorability ratings among Democrats continue to languish. His personal index will have to substantially improve if he is to make a push to develop a five-way nomination campaign.

Yesterday, we covered a Monmouth University national poll that found Bloomberg being regarded as the most unpopular of the well-known Democratic candidates, and this MassInc/WBUR New Hampshire survey returns similar results.

While Mayor Buttigieg and Sen. Sanders top the favorability ratings of the 13 tested candidates in New Hampshire, Bloomberg was dead last among the serious candidates with a 19:46 percent positive to negative ratio. This, remember, within a sampling cell of likely Democratic primary voters.

To contrast this index, Sen. Sanders scored 60:28 percent and Mayor Buttigieg 58:16 percent within the same sampling universe, the two candidates with the best ratings. In fact, all of the other candidates scored in even or positive territory with the exception of Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (26:36 percent), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (23:26 percent), and author Marianne Williamson (10:32 percent).

With Mayor Buttigieg clearly on the upswing in Iowa and New Hampshire, it is important to look at the next of the early states, Nevada, to see if a similar pattern is beginning to develop. To have any realistic chance of building enough support to contend for the nomination, Buttigieg will need to sweep the first three states in order to counter what is likely to be a severe downturn in support once the campaign moves to the south, a region where he is not performing well to date.

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