Pete Buttigieg vaulted into the lead in the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nominations race in early-voting Iowa, according to a poll Tuesday, as billionaire and fellow moderate Michael Bloomberg stepped closer to a White House run.
Both moves come at the expense of former vice president Joe Biden, whose centrist campaign has struggled to maintain its frontrunner status.
And they signal an unsettled field with voters far from coalescing around a single candidate less than three months before the first votes in Iowa.
The Monmouth University poll marks the first time that Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana and at 37 the youngest candidate in the race, has topped a statewide presidential survey, firming his stature in the crowded battle to challenge President Donald Trump.
Buttigieg leads with 22 percent support while Biden secured 19 percent, according to the poll of likely voters in Iowa, which votes first in the nomination process.
The race’s two leading progressives, senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, came in at 18 percent and 13 percent respectively.
The poll surveyed 451 Iowans likely to attend the state’s caucuses next February, and the margin of error is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.
In national polling Biden is the frontrunner, and Buttigieg remains in fourth, behind Warren and Sanders.
But the Iowa poll confirms a rising trend for Buttigieg. His support surged 14 points since the last Monmouth poll in August, while Biden’s slid seven points.
Buttigieg “is doing well with voters regardless of education or ideology,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll also shows that many Iowans are not fully committed, with 53 percent of likely caucusgoers acknowledging a high or moderate possibility they will change their minds.
In a further unexpected twist to the Democratic race, defeated 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday appeared to not rule out joining the fray.
She told BBC radio “many, many people” were pressuring her to run but “as of this moment… that is absolutely not in my plans.”
The lack of a firm frontrunner could encourage Bloomberg, the former New York mayor.
“Officially filed in Arkansas to be on the ballot for the Democratic primary,” tweeted Bloomberg with a photograph of himself submitting the paperwork — four days after doing the same in Alabama.
“We must defeat Trump. He has failed us at every turn,” the 77-year-old added.
Both states have early deadlines to register for the primaries.
– Reversing course? –
Bloomberg’s personal appearance to sign his ballot papers in Little Rock was a strong hint that the centrist tycoon will officially leap into the already-crowded Democratic field.
“If he runs, he’s going to go to states that Democrats never go to in the primary campaign,” Bloomberg spokesman Jason Schechter told The New York Times. “We’re starting that today in Arkansas.”
Bloomberg had said back in March that he would not run.
He has changed his political affiliation on multiple occasions, including switching from Democrat to Republican when he successfully ran for mayor of New York in 2001. He became an independent six years later.
Bloomberg is said to be concerned that a progressive Democratic nominee like Sanders or Warren would aid Trump’s re-election.
By filing in Arkansas and Alabama — which vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, along with 12 other states — Bloomberg is signalling he might forego campaigning in the four states that vote earlier in February: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
No candidate in modern US politics has eschewed campaigning in early voting states and won their party’s nomination.
Bloomberg founded a media company that became a multi-billion-dollar behemoth, and ran the nation’s largest city, with 8.6 million residents, for 12 years.
But Bloomberg, like Trump, is a white male septuagenarian New York billionaire.
Buttigieg is about half their age, from the midwest, and the first major openly gay presidential candidate.
“I’m as opposite from this president as it gets,” he told AFP recently in New Hampshire.
Trump’s former White House doctor Ronny Jackson wins GOP runoff for Congress in Texas
Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician and President Donald Trump's onetime nominee for secretary of veterans affairs, has won his bid for the Republican nomination for a solidly red congressional seat in the Texas Panhandle.
With 100% of polling locations reporting, though some mail-in ballots will still need to be counted, Jackson held a lead of 11 percentage points over Josh Winegarner, a veteran agriculture expert and lobbyist. Jackson and Winegarner were competing for a seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, who is retiring and held the seat since 1995.
Jeff Sessions’ fate is a warning for us all
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions lost his primary race to be the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama on Tuesday night in a landslide, according to Decision Desk HQ. Early returns showed him losing the shot to win back his old seat by more than 20 points to opponent Tommy Tuberville, who will face off against Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in November.
It wasn't a surprising loss for Sessions, though it is a brutal one. He gave up his seat in the Senate to become President Donald Trump's attorney general, and he lost his big chance to return because his one-time benefactor turned against him. Trump enthusiastically endorsed Tuberville while viciously and repeatedly denouncing Sessions.
Trump Jr. blasted for dragging Barron Trump into 2020 campaign: ‘You are messing up his mind’
President Donald Trump's eldest son on Tuesday dragged his 14-year-old half brother Barron into the 2020 presidential campaign -- and it did not end well.
Barron is the son of first lady Melania Trump from the president's third marriage, while junior's mother is Ivana, from the president's first marriage.
"In all fairness, Joe Biden is not capable of debating Barron Trump let alone Donald Trump," Trump, Jr. tweeted.
He was quickly blasted for bringing a minor into a presidential race.
Here's some of what people were saying: