Sept. 20, 2019 — While South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar are lagging in the polls nationally, new data from Iowa may be providing them each with a ray of hope.
Hawkeye State caucus attenders from both parties tend to like candidates from the Midwest. This was true for Republicans when former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole twice won the Iowa Caucuses in his presidential campaigns. President Gerald Ford (MI) also beat Ronald Reagan here in 1976.
Since the beginning of the Iowa Caucus system, a Midwestern Democratic candidate has won this nominating event exactly half of the time. Those winners were former Vice President Walter Mondale (MN), ex-House Leader Richard Gephardt (MO), home state Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, and President Barack Obama (IL) twice.
The current Democratic field features two Midwestern candidates, Mayor Buttigieg from South Bend, Indiana, and Minnesota’s Sen. Klobuchar. Neither has been doing particularly well in polling lately, and both need a strong showing in Iowa, the first voting state, next February to remain viable.
Two polls were just released for the impeding 2020 Iowa Caucus and both show Mayor Buttigieg rebounding. The Civiqs polling organization, surveying for Iowa State University (Sept. 13-17; 572 likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants) finds Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) placing first with 24 percent, and former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tied for second, each posting 16 percent.
Mayor Buttigieg then scores 13 percent, returning to double digit support and claiming a solid fourth position. Sen. Klobuchar does not do particularly well on this poll, recording only three percent preference and tying her with New York City businessman Andrew Yang.
But the David Binder Research study (Sept. 14-16; 500 likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants) sees things a bit differently. Binder finds Biden taking a slight lead over Sen. Warren, 25-23 percent, with Buttigieg in third at 12 percent, ahead of Sen. Sanders who only records nine percent support in this particular poll. In this survey, Sen. Klobuchar registers her best showing of the campaign, eight percent, just one point behind Sanders.
California Sen. Kamala Harris, on the other hand, fares poorly in both polls. She can only garner five percent in both the Civiqs and the Binder surveys. This standing also reflects her dipping national performance of late. She will need to reverse this trend quickly to avoid being routinely relegated to the second tier.
Among the other candidates, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who failed to qualify for the third debate but is moving up the New Hampshire polling charts, also is beginning to improve her position in Iowa. She scores four percent in the Civiqs poll, ahead of Klobuchar, but only one percent in the Binder study. Billionaire Tom Steyer is attracting a bit more attention. He posts three percent in the Binder poll and two percent in Civiqs. He has also already qualified for the October debate, scheduled for Oct. 15-16 from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, a Columbus suburb.
With the Iowa Caucus scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020, much time remains to jockey for position. Regardless of where the candidates stand now, it will be imperative for the two Midwestern candidates to take advantage of their regional asset when the first official votes are ultimately cast on that cold Iowa Monday night in early February. Strategically, they must parlay a stronger than expected Hawkeye State showing into increased momentum to sustain their campaign effort through the other three February states and into Super Tuesday on March 3.