The 2020 Democratic primary is still close to a year away, but there is already one dark horse surging from the bottom of the pack who could shake up a race filled with big names.
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had been consistently polling at the bottom of a field that includes several members of the U.S. Senate and the likely entrance of a former vice president. But in recent days, Buttigieg has been able to capitalize off some larger national exposure to begin climbing in the polls.
A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that Buttigieg has reached his highest point in a poll, hitting 4 percent. Buttigieg’s previous high in a poll was just 1 percent, and the jump by 3 percentage points was called “statistically significant” in a CNN report.
As the report added, Buttigieg has now moved ahead of some candidates once considered potential frontrunners.
“Buttigieg’s standing lands him at fifth and tied with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Buttigieg is ahead of both Sens. Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, who are each at 2 percent. In other words, the current mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is polling in the same area as a number of candidates who are regarded as having a legitimate chance of winning the Democratic nomination,” the report noted.
The report concluded that Buttigieg is having “a very good March” and noted that he has seen positive movement in other polls as well. Another voter survey from Emerson Polling showed that the South Bend mayor was rising sharply in the key early voting state of Iowa. Buttigieg had moved from the bottom of the pack to third in the poll, with 11 percent of voters saying they want Buttigieg to be the 2020 presidential nominee.
Spencer Kimball, director of the Emerson Poll, called Buttigieg’s performance the biggest surprise in the poll and said that his quick rise to contending position could be pivotal. As Buttigieg has started to build support and move within striking distance of the frontrunners, he has gotten greater exposure from the media. Experts say the biggest hurdle for Buttigieg is building his name recognition, so this is seen as one of the key factors to him actually having a chance of winning the Democratic nomination when the primary starts next year.
There are still a number of factors that could affect Pete Buttigieg’s position ahead of the 2020 Democratic primary, including the likely entrance of former Vice President Joe Biden in the race, but he has already managed to outlast a number of fringe candidates who dropped out amid low poll numbers.