In a recent episode of Showtime’s “The Circus,” John Heilemann spoke with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
During the segment, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said that he sees the primary field winnowing to himself and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
BUTTIGIEG: I think this is getting to be a two-way. It’s early to say it. I’m not saying it is a two-way, but I think –
HEILEMANN: But you see that? You see it’s coming into focus – you and Warren.
BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, and certainly a world where we’re getting somewhere is that world, where it’s coming down to the two of us. Obviously, there’s a lot of candidates and a lot of things can happen, but I think that as that happens, the contrasts become clear. Look, the contrasts are real. They’re substantive, respectful policy contrasts, but they’re real.
HEILEMANN: First of all, it’s interesting you say that, right? So, you accept the notion right now that it’s kind of Warren against the field, really.
HEILEMANN: Someone’s trying to become the the alternative to Warren right now, right?
BUTTIGIEG: Yeah, I think it’s shaping up that way.
HEILEMANN: And so the former Vice President of the United States is like, in your mind at this point, already, like, gone?
BUTTIGIEG: I would say this. Either he is the unstoppable front-runner, and we can all go home, or he’s not, and anybody who’s in this race is pure on the assumption that he’s not.
Looking at the RealClearPolitics national polling averages since the beginning of July (just after the first Democratic primary debate), former Vice President Joe Biden has remained fairly consistent. During that same time period, Sen. Elizabeth Warren steadily rose. However, around the beginning of October, Warren began a slow decline.
While Buttigieg has had multiple minor surges, he hasn’t received more than 10% of the vote in a single national poll.
However, the mayor has seen a swift upswing in Iowa, where two recent polls put him within striking distance of Warren. As of publication, Buttigieg sits in second place in Iowa at 17%, according to the RealClearPolitics average.
Buttigieg isn’t faring as well in other early primary/caucus states. He’s in fourth place in New Hampshire with just 8.7%; in fifth place in Nevada with just 3.5%; and in sixth place in South Carolina with just 4%.
In response to Buttigieg’s remarks on “The Circus,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is struggling in both national and state polling, told CBS’ Ed O’Keefe that the mayor is being “naive.”
“Well I think that it’s naive for him to think that at this point that the fate of this election has been determined. Just look at history,” Harris stated. “He might need to review past elections to know that what’s happening right now is not necessarily determinative of the outcome.”
David Axelrod, former chief strategist for the Obama campaign, also commented: “The campaign strategist’s nightmare: When the candidate goes all pundit in an interview. Unhelpful. Honest but unnecessary. All part of learning the rules of a game in which candor can sound like hubris.”
Honest but unnecessary. All part of learning the rules of a game in which candor can sound like hubris.
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 2, 2019
As for campaign cash, Buttigieg is very much alive in the race. Business Insider reports that the South Bend mayor raised enough money in the third quarter to stand just behind Sanders and Warren:
When it comes to cash on hand, Buttigieg has approximately $23.3 million as of October 15. Sanders and Warren have $33.7 and $25.7, respectively. Perhaps more importantly, Buttigieg ranked fifth among the Democratic candidates when it came to spending, behind billionaire Tom Steyer, Sanders, Warren, and Biden, reports NPR.