by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A decent number of Buttigieg supporters are now up for grabs in the Super Tuesday states. Buttigieg is at 13.3 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average of Massachusetts, 13 percent in Colorado, 11.5 percent in Virginia, 9.5 percent California, 7.5 percent in Texas, 6.8 percent in North Carolina. …
… Last week, Morning Consult asked Buttigieg supporters who their second choice was and found them splitting pretty evenly: Sanders 21 percent, Joe Biden 19 percent, Warren 19 percent, and Mike Bloomberg 17 percent. If Buttigieg supporters do split that way, each of those four candidates would get another 2 to 3 percent, which could put some of them above the 15 percent threshold in certain states.
Does the Iowa caucus really matter anymore? Most of the past few Democratic presidential primaries haven’t been that competitive, obscuring how little this first contest affected the others. Hillary Clinton won Iowa by just a handful of votes in 2016 and went on to win the nomination; the overall popular vote across all states wasn’t as close at the race seemed, with Clinton getting 55 percent and Sanders getting 43 percent. Barack Obama’s win in 2008 and John Kerry’s win in 2004 were consequential. Al Gore dunked on Bill Bradley in 2000, and Bill Clinton faced no real competitor in 1996. Biden’s huge win in South Carolina suggests that early-state wins don’t really matter very much.
One could argue that the inability of Iowa’s Democratic Party to count the votes and announce a winner on Election Night cost Buttigieg a lot of his momentum, but he finished a close second in New Hampshire, and that didn’t seem to translate into any growth in support in Nevada or South Carolina. If you’re an Indiana mayor whose base of support is among “wine track” Democrats, what’s the next state that looks good for you? Michigan on March 10? Missouri? Washington?