Buttigieg positioned to push Biden aside

Buttigieg positioned to push Biden aside
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South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE is rising in polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, putting himself in position to surpass former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Biden: 'More than one African American woman' being considered for VP Liberal group asks Klobuchar to remove herself from VP consideration because of prosecutorial record 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 WarrenThe Memo: Trump ratchets up Twitter turmoil Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues Warren condemns 'horrific' Trump tweet on Minneapolis protests, other senators chime in MORE (D-Mass.) received 16 percent, while Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe battle of two Cubas Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Ro Khanna Democrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA 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 PatrickIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Andrew Yang endorses Biden in 2020 race MORE has entered the Democratic race, and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report 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 ClintonTrump campaign launches Asian Pacific Americans coalition Van Jones: A 'white, liberal Hillary Clinton supporter' can pose a greater threat to black Americans than the KKK Taylor Swift slams Trump tweet: 'You have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence?' 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.”