For the first time, Pete Buttigieg is leading in a poll of likely voters in the Iowa caucus ahead of the state’s February 2020 Democratic primary.
A poll published by Monmouth University on Tuesday shows Buttigieg pulling ahead of rivals Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, who have led Iowa for the majority of the 2020 race. Twenty-two percent of likely caucus-goers say they are considering voting for Buttigieg, while 19 percent favor Biden. Warren is just behind with 18 percent, while Bernie Sanders trails in fourth with 13 percent.
This is a huge surge from Buttigieg compared to the previous Monmouth survey. In August, just eight percent of Iowa caucus voters said he was their preferred candidate. At the time, Biden led with 28 percent, while Warren claimed 19 percent.
Monmouth University is one of the most widely respected polling centers in the country, receiving a rare A+ rating from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. But those with doubts about the survey’s accuracy should consider polling averages conducted by RealClearPolitics, which show Buttigieg and Warren statistically tied in the Iowa caucus. The Massachusetts Senator leads with 20 percent, while the South Bend, Indiana mayor claims 19.3 percent.
If Buttigieg is able to coast to victory in the Iowa caucus next year, he would be the first gay man to do so in either party. He is just one of a handful of out LGBTQ+ candidates to run for president, an extremely short list that includes Republican Fred Karger in the 2012 GOP primary. Karger was a write-in candidate in Iowa, where he received just 10 votes in total (or 0.1 percent).
The Iowa caucus holds a great deal of symbolic importance in the presidential race. As the first official primary poll, it’s the first time voters have a formal chance to sound off on the candidates — ahead of the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. The winner earns 49 delegates.
Although the eventually Democratic nominee will need to win a whopping 1,919 delegates in 2020, the Iowa caucus is looked at by pundits as a predictor of things to come. When Barack Obama upset presumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton in 2008 by taking 37.6 percent of the overall vote, it was viewed as shifting the tides of the race. After a narrow defeat in New Hampshire, he would go onto win the South Carolina primary by nearly 30 points.
Buttigieg is hoping for a similar trajectory in 2020. While he currently trails current frontrunner Biden by almost 20 points in RealClearPolitics averages, the website showed Clinton leading Obama by nearly the same exact same margin during this point in the 2008 election cycle.
If he wins the Democratic nomination, he would be the first out LGBTQ+ candidate to do so, as well as the youngest. Obama was 47 when he was named the official nominee of the Democratic party, while John F. Kennedy was 43. Buttigieg will be 38 years old in July 2020, when the Democratic National Convention is set to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Buttigieg has already made history in the 2020 race, however, by being the first out LGBTQ+ candidate to appear in a presidential debate and the first to tell their coming out story on the debate stage.