Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg placed third in a new poll out of Iowa. He earned double digits and surpassed more nationally known contenders like Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.
The poll, conducted by Emerson Polling, gathered data on voters’ impressions of presidential candidates in the Democratic party.
Buttigieg came in third in the poll and was one of only four candidates to garner double-digit support.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy, led the pack with 25%. Bernie Sanders, who ran against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, trailed close behind with 24%.
Buttigieg earned 11% of the vote, followed by Kamala Harris with 10%.
Buttigieg announced his candidacy in January. He is currrently the only openly gay candidate running for President in the 2020 election.
As the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, hardly anyone knew who Buttigieg was prior to this campaign. With the help of viral videos, attention from celebrities like Billy Eichner, and more, Buttigieg has started to make a name for himself.
He only became an official candidate last week when he hit his 65,000 donor goal.
‘Last week we saw him inching up in our national poll, and now he’s in double digits in Iowa,’ said Emerson Poll Director Spencer Kimball of Buttigieg’s rise.
The fight against other candidates
There are over 10 Democratic candidates currently in the race for the presidency.
Emerson concluded from their polling that Buttigieg’s biggest contender is Sanders.
Among 18-29 year old voters, Sanders leads with 44%. Buttigieg, meanwhile, has 22%. Biden leads all other age groups.
‘If Buttigieg is able to maintain his momentum, his candidacy appears to be pulling from the same demographic of young voters as Sanders, and that could become a problem for Sanders,’ Kimball observed.
This is also the same base for Texas’ Beto O’Rourke, who announced his candidacy last week. Beyoncé publicly supported O’Rourke’s Senate run during last year’s midterm elections.
In a mock general election match-up against Donald Trump, Emerson’s poll found that only Biden and Sanders lead the current President. Other candidates, however, are within a margin of error.
Why does Iowa matter?
Iowa is often discussed as a critical state in presidential elections.
It is one of two states, alongside New Hampshire, who votes first. For Democratic candidates, it is a rowdy and crowded affair. Iowa doesn’t simply have a vote — they have a caucus.
This is a meeting where people can make speeches on behalf of their preferred candidate and voters literally have to move and stand with other supporters of their candidate. If a candidate doesn’t earn 15% of the vote, they’re eliminated.
Since 1980, only one presidential candidate from either party has won their party’s nomination without winning Iowa, New Hampshire, or both. That was Bill Clinton in 1992.
While Iowa may not represent the whole of the United States, it essentially the first major kick-off of the presidential election.
It narrows the field, determining who does and who does not have a legitimate chance at the nomination. It also alerts the media about which candidates to focus on.
The Iowa caucuses are currently scheduled for 3 February 2020.