Buttigieg Surges in Iowa
It is a sunny day in Iowa and with under three months until the caucus, talk of political candidates is swirling in the air. While multiple candidates are talked about in conversation and seen running throughout the state, Mayor Pete is currently gaining momentum. Pete Buttigieg is all in for Iowa when examining his website and schedule, and recent polls show his effort is paying off, for now.
When having conversations with Iowans, Mayor Pete seems to be top of mind whether it be on campus, at the Liberty and Justice Celebration, or throughout the packed debate watch parties around Des Moines. The Pete popularity boom is reflective in recent Iowa polls and the media market. An Ann Selzer poll released mid-November shows Buttigieg as the frontrunner with 25 percent of the vote. A YouGov poll released at the same time as Selzer’s has him trailing Biden and Sanders by one point and Monmouth has him in the lead with 22 percent of the vote.
If the sudden rise in the polls does not convince you how much importance Pete for America is placing on the February caucus check out the new design of the campaign landing site. The website has undergone a recent makeover with an outline of the state of Iowa and a new ad titled “Iowa Sizzle” taking up much of the page. The banner near the top reads “Iowa! Volunteer…” and the banner running across the bottom says “Commit to Caucus.” As you scroll, the page offers four more video advertisements tailored to Pete’s time in Iowa. Not from Iowa? You will need to locate the fine print that says “I’m not in Iowa” to navigate to the rest of the site. Seeing as Iowans are of a small portion of the population who are tuned in this early, the format makes more sense than those missing out on the Iowa experience may think.
Whether you are watching Hulu or cable television, you will notice that Mayor Pete is buying much of the airwaves. If you are in Iowa and feel like I do in that you can recite every word of Buttigieg’s campaign ads, you are not imagining things. According to Five-Thirty-Eight Politics, currently, Buttigieg has aired 10 ads in Iowa on 3,841 spots with the total cost reaching $2.2 million.
Although, Buttigieg has not been one of the fourteen candidates to set foot on Drake’s campus he does have a large presence through Bulldogs for Pete, an ad-hoc group that tables and holds events for the candidate on campus. While he may not be at Drake, he is spending time in Iowa. From November 23 to November 26 you can meet him in person in Creston, Council Bluffs, Storm Lake, or Sioux City. I expect that he will show his face at Drake before the final Caucus results are entered.
Many Drake students have taken full advantage of the Caucus environment by spending time volunteering, part-time, or full-time with the Buttigieg campaign. The complexity of the Iowa caucus, particularly on the Democratic side, makes it imperative for campaigns to staff up with campaign personnel familiar with the terrain and the process. As of October 1, Pete for America has 21 offices across Iowa and a staff of nearly 100. Buttigieg’s state director was formerly the campaign manager for Andrew Gillum’s Florida gubernatorial campaign, Pennsylvania political director for Hillary for America, and graduated from Notre Dame in Indiana. His political director, the most Iowan of his leadership team, has experience managing a campaign in Polk County and was a candidate for chair of the Democratic Party of Iowa. The organizing director has experience in New York campaigns and Stacey Abrams gubernatorial campaign, as well as Hillary for America in Virginia. This mixed bag of in and out of state experience tells me Buttigieg should consider hiring more Drake alumni.
While there is no doubt Mayor Pete is surging, with the spotlight will undoubtedly come to a new target on his back for the November debate. Living in Iowa allows us to have an up-close and personal look at the state of the race and we take the selection process seriously. As the temperature drops, Iowans will be ready to have the final say on whether Mayor Pete is the real deal or a forgettable candidate who peaked too early.