Buttigieg claims narrow Iowa lead amid primary surge: poll

A new poll in Iowathe state that kicks off the presidential caucus and primary nominating calendar – shows Pete Buttigieg claiming a narrow lead over his top rivals for the Democratic nomination.

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., stands at 22 percent among likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, according to the Monmouth University survey, with former Vice President Joe Biden at 19 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 18 percent and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at 13 percent.

Buttigieg’s 3-percentage-point advantage over Biden is within the poll’s margin of error, but represents a remarkable surge in recent months.

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Buttigieg has soared 14 points since Monmouth’s last survey in Iowa, which was conducted in August. Biden’s dropped 7 points, Warren’s edged down 2 points, and Sanders has jumped 5 points from the August survey.

The Monmouth survey, released on Tuesday, is the latest in Iowa to indicate Buttigieg has joined the top tier of candidates, at least in that state. A Quinnipiac University survey in Iowa released last week showed Warren at 20 percent, Buttigieg at 19 percent, Sanders at 17 percent and Biden at 15 percent.

Buttigieg, the longest of longshots for the nomination when he launched his campaign at the beginning of the year, first soared in the spring to middle-tier status. The U.S. Naval Reserve veteran who served in Afghanistan and who would be the first openly gay president if elected surged again over the past month to reach top-tier status.

“Buttigieg is emerging as a top pick for a wide variety of Iowa Democrats. While he has made nominally bigger gains among older caucus-goers, you really can’t pigeonhole his support to one particular group. He is doing well with voters regardless of education or ideology,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

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The survey indicates Sen. Amy Klobuchar from neighboring Minnesota at 5 percent, with tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and billionaire businessman and environmental advocate Tom Steyer each at 3 percent, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii at 2 percent. The rest of the large field of Democratic White House hopefuls registered at 1 percent or less. Support for Harris dropped by 9 points since the August poll, while the rest of the candidates stood within a point or two of their August standing.

The poll’s release comes as former New York City mayor and billionaire business mogul Mike Bloomberg takes concrete steps toward launching a Democratic presidential campaign. The survey indicates that among Iowa Democrats, Bloomberg has a 17 percent favorable rating and 48 percent unfavorable rating.

“Reports suggest that Bloomberg will skip the February contests if he does get into the race. With dismal numbers like these, it’s easy to see why. But I really cannot imagine that Democrats in the Super Tuesday states would be significantly more receptive to him than Iowa voters,” Murray said.

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The Monmouth University poll was conducted Nov. 7-11, with 451 Iowa voters likely to take part in the state’s Democratic presidential caucuses questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.