Buttigieg positioned to push Biden aside

Buttigieg positioned to push Biden aside
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South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg campaign claims 'irregularities' in Nevada caucuses Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden 9-year-old asks Buttigieg how to be strong and tell people he is gay too MORE is rising in polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, putting himself in position to surpass former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenButtigieg campaign claims 'irregularities' in Nevada caucuses Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE as the leading centrist in the Democratic race.

Buttigieg rocketed to the top of a Saint Anselm poll in New Hampshire on Tuesday, receiving 25 percent of the support from 512 registered voters compared to 15 percent for Biden.

He also surged above the rest of the field in two big Iowa polls in the last week, creating a new round of buzz around his candidacy. 

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The mayor landed in first place in a Des Moines Register-CNN-Mediacom poll over the weekend, winning 25 percent support from would-be caucusgoers. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenPoll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll Sanders has wide leads in two of three battleground states: survey MORE (D-Mass.) received 16 percent, while Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Buttigieg campaign claims 'irregularities' in Nevada caucuses Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden MORE (I-Vt.) each won 15 percent.  

A Monmouth University poll last week also showed Buttigieg leading Warren, Biden and Sanders in the Hawkeye State. 

While Buttigieg is still struggling to build a coalition and draw support from black and Hispanic voters, Democrats say a victory in Iowa could give him a significant boost that might get other voters to give him a serious new look. 

“It's true that right now Buttigieg has a lot of work to do to gain nonwhite support but you don't need much of a rainbow coalition to win Iowa and New Hampshire, and the momentum he'll gain from that one-two punch, if he does win both, is substantial and maybe insurmountable,” said Democratic strategist Christy Setzer.

Democratic strategist Jim Manley said Buttigieg’s surge in Iowa comes at a particularly precarious time for Biden. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickNevada caucuses open with a few hiccups Hill TV's Saagar Enjeti slams the media's coverage of Deval Patrick's 2020 campaign The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg to face off with rivals at Nevada debate MORE has entered the Democratic race, and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergPoll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll Sanders has wide leads in two of three battleground states: survey MORE is now seriously considering the race.

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Both Patrick’s decision to jump in and Bloomberg’s possible entry have been interpreted as signs by the two Democrats, their supporters and party donors that Biden is too weak a candidate to win the nomination. 

“The Biden folks in particular have to feel a little vulnerable right now,” Manley said. “Anything is possible. No one has a lock on the race.” 

The rise of Buttigieg is also seen by many as a sign that voters looking for a centrist candidate are exploring alternatives to the vice president, who is about to turn 77. But allies to Biden say they’re not concerned about Buttigieg’s rise. 

“Until he can really prove that he can energize a coalition of voters, there’s really nothing to worry about,” said one longtime ally. “You can’t win if you can’t get all of that support. It just won’t happen.”

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs, said Team Biden shouldn’t worry yet.

“Although Iowa can matter and Mayor Pete has a formidable team, he is still not attracting the kind of broad support he will need to win in big states,” Zelizer said. “Biden is in much better shape to win working and lower-middle-class voters as well as the African American vote.” 

Biden has strong support among African Americans and is counting on their support in South Carolina. A Quinnipiac poll in the state shows Biden with a solid lead in the state at 33 percent. Warren comes in second at 13 percent. 

Team Buttigieg has tried to make inroads with black voters this week with a $2 million ad buy in South Carolina, pledging to “do something” about systemic racism and gun violence.  

But “Mayor Pete” faces an uphill climb, even his supporters acknowledge. Last week, his campaign came under scrutiny after his team used a stock photo of woman in Kenya on their website as part of a policy outreach to black voters, according to The Intercept. The photo was immediately taken down. 

Earlier this year, Buttigieg also received a rash of negative press after a police officer shot a black man in South Bend. On the heels of the shooting, he got into a heated back-and-forth with a black constituent. 

“You’re running for president and you want black people to vote for you? That’s not going to happen,” the woman said.  

But Democratic strategist Adam Parkhomenko, who served as an aide on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' The problem with Trump's Middle East peace plan Trump's Intel moves spark Democratic fury MORE's 2016 campaign, said Buttigieg has been rising in the polls while Biden has been falling.  

“It’s a domino effect,” Parkhomenko said, adding that Buttigieg’s positive numbers “are starting to bleed out.” 

 “For the most part Biden has missed a lot of big opportunities.”