Buttigieg Jumps to Second in New Iowa State University/Civiqs Poll

October 25, 2019 by Dan McCue
South Bend, Indiana Mayor and 2020 Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg packed the Scheman Center on Wednesday, drawing 900 people to his campaign rally in Ames. Photo by David Mullen/The Ames Tribune.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is building momentum in Iowa, according to an Iowa State University/Civiqs poll released this week.

The university and Civiqs, an online polling company, surveys the same pool of voters each month in the lead up to the Iowa Caucuses to understand how voter preferences are shifting.

The poll contains the results of an online survey conducted Oct. 18-22, of 598 likely Democratic Caucus attendees.

It found that 20% of respondents said Buttigieg is their top choice among the field of Democratic presidential candidates.

That moves him to second in the poll – up from fourth in September – just behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren who maintained her lead at 28%.

“You can attribute some of his momentum to basic retail politics,” said Dave Peterson, a professor and Whitaker Lindgren faculty fellow in political science who organized the poll.

“Buttigieg is incredibly well organized and is spending a lot of resources in Iowa. His presence at the Iowa Steak Fry last month was better than any other candidate,” he said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders were tied for second in the September poll. Sanders is now third with 18% and Biden is fourth at 12%.

The poll also asked voters to list the candidate they do not want to win the nomination. Biden and Sanders topped this list. Peterson says Tulsi Gabbard was third, moving from nearly 7% in September to 17%.

The online survey was sent to selected members of the Civiqs research panel. Likely caucus attendees were identified as those who responded they would “definitely” or “probably” attend the Iowa Democratic Caucuses and identified as Democrats or independents.

An oversample of Democrats and independents were selected to produce a larger number of likely caucus attendees. 

Demographic data were collected in previous Civiqs surveys. The results for registered voters are weighted by age, race, gender, education, party and congressional district to be representative of registered voters in Iowa.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 5%. Results of the next poll are expected in mid-November.

The poll results were a bit of good news in a week that also saw the leak of an internal focus group report that showed Buttigieg failing to gain traction with a key voting bloc in another early voting state, South Carolina.

The 21-page report, conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group with black Democratic South Carolina voters in mid-July was obtained by McClatchy newspapers.

It found that Buttigieg’s “being gay was a barrier for these voters, particularly for the men who seemed deeply uncomfortable even discussing it. … (T)heir preference is for his sexuality to not be front and center.”

After three 90-minute sessions with a total of 24 uncommitted black voters in Columbia, S.C., aged 25 to 65, just one –a woman over 40 –said they were considering voting for Buttigieg. Conversely, all but one said they were considering voting for Joe Biden, described in the report as “the clear and dominant front runner” in the state that holds the fourth Democratic nominating contest.

“It’s hard to underestimate the power of the Obama association with these voters,” the report states.

While the report stated that Buttigieg’s sexuality was not a “disqualifier” for these voters, it also revealed other potential pitfalls for the candidate with these voters, including his relative youth, political inexperience and low name recognition.

“They find it hard to believe that if Barack Obama struggled with Congress, that a young, new face would be able to make progress, especially on issues as tough as racism and inequality,” the report reads.

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