The 38-year-old candidate is a short lead ahead of Bernie Sanders, according to partial results from Iowa Democratic caucuses. The former mayor of South Bend is now a favorite in the White House nomination contest.
And the winner is … is … So it was not until 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 4, that America would know the outcome of the Iowa caucuses. Or rather 62% of the results, the rest still being collected. A giant failure linked to the new organization of the poll, which some had planned but which did very, very, bad genre to kick off the race for the democratic nomination for the presidential election of November 3.
In the end, the evening of Monday still released a winner, and it is a very big surprise: Pete Buttigieg. Out of this 62% of votes, he finished just ahead of Bernie Sanders in number of delegates (26.8% against 25.2%) and became, overnight, one of the favorites of these Democratic primaries.
After? Everything has to be done. Even before the hiccups of the results occurs, Dave Wasserman , one of the best American political journalists, recalled that Iowa “is absolutely not representative of the democratic electorate of primary education in general” . His chances of giving the presidential election in 2024 are now minimal. But meanwhile…
How did the different candidates pass this first test?
Iowa has always had surprises in store, but this is a big one: the surprise winner in number of delegates, if the complete results confirm it, is a gay candidate, young (38 years old, only three years older than the minimum age to be a candidate), adorned with a bizarre name (pronounced “boot-edge-edge”) and whose political CV comes down to the town hall of a city of 100,000 inhabitants of Indiana, South Bend. Unbelievable ! The last time such an outsider stole the show in Iowa was in 2008. His name was Barack Obama.
Buttigieg had bet a lot on this white Midwestern state tailor-made for him. He waged an effective campaign there, particularly in the final stretch, standing out not only from Joe Biden, who was supposed to represent an “establishment” in Washington whose voters no longer wanted, but also from Bernie Sanders, denounced as too far left.
Faced with the Sanders steamroller, he hadn’t planned to arrive first. “In the first four states, and especially in Iowa and New Hampshire, we have to demonstrate that we are viable for” Super Tuesday “and the rest of the primaries,” said campaign manager Michael Hale, before Monday’s vote.
This contract is not yet fulfilled – Buttigieg must convince Hispanic and especially black voters, who have so far seemed allergic to his candidacy -, but if he overcomes these obstacles, he risks becoming a very tempting moderate alternative to eyes of those who judge Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren too left to win against Donald Trump. On Monday evening, in a winning speech, he introduced himself as a rallying man, “a candidate who lives and works in the industrial Midwest” and has “the best chance” to “send Donald Trump back into the dustbin of the history “.
He was counting on a good result, he got it. Of the 62% of results announced at 5 p.m., Bernie Sanders even finished first in number of votes. But he must share the spotlight with Pete Buttigieg.
The next stop is New Hampshire on February 11. Hard to imagine that “Bernie”, elected from neighboring Vermont, does not come out on top. Then comes Nevada (February 22), a state on which all eyes will be turned: Joe Biden’s lead over Bernie Sanders melted there – on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, it was no longer on average only 3.5% and 1% in the most recent survey.
Sanders now has a good chance of breaking through Biden’s first Nevada firewall. But the second, South Carolina (February 29), remains a stronghold for the ex-vice-president of Barack Obama, very popular with blacks who represent nearly a third of Democratic voters voting in the primaries in this state . Sanders knows full well that without the voices of blacks, nationally, his chances are slim: for over thirty years, no Democratic candidate has won the nomination without securing a majority of their vote.
Hope, which is also that of Elizabeth Warren: young blacks prefer these two left candidates to Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg.
It was said to be losing momentum, it has proven that it remains a solid candidate, arriving in third position with 18.4% of the delegates. In Iowa, “Warren has and always had the best organization on the ground, and it will do better than the polls predict , ” predicted Sue Dvorsky, former Democratic Party president for that state. Good pick: the thousands of selfies, individual contacts and super-enthusiastic activists made the difference.
Massachusetts Senator, neighbor of New Hampshire, Elizabeth Warren has a good chance of finishing second behind Sanders. In the following States, the polls always give it behind him, but at a distance which is not insurmountable. We can therefore expect a hardening of the Sanders-Warren rivalry to occupy the niche from left to left.
He did not plan to finish in fourth place (15.4% of the delegates), and he can only a few hundred votes to not be fifth.
It is far too early to beat him, but his underperformance is frankly worrying. His “reasonable” campaign for moderation promising a return to normality before Trump is decidedly lacking a spark. The ex-vice president believed he could rely on his electability (his chances of winning) against Donald Trump, vis-à-vis a democratic base which is by far the priority. The only catch: all these voters, starting with Sanders fans, believe that it is their candidate who has the best chance of winning on November 3.
The problem for Biden is that of momentum , of “momentum.” If Iowa and New Hampshire play a disproportionate role in these primaries, it is because they instill the feeling in many democrats that a candidate is on the rise or, on the contrary, is starting to smell of fir. “I don’t think he can afford another fourth place in New Hampshire,” said Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.
For Biden, it’s not just a problem of voice but of money: unlike Sanders or Warren, who can count on an almost inexhaustible reservoir of modest but regular individual donations, Biden depends on big donors, whose support will be crucial for the very expensive primaries of “Super Tuesday” on March 3. On that day, Democratic voters will vote in fifteen states and territories, including Texas and California, to choose more than a third of the delegates who will officially nominate the Democratic candidate for the White House at the convention. of the party in July. In a word, Biden risks being short of money.
If he limits breakage in New Hampshire and wins Nevada and South Carolina with a convincing score, however, he will again become a viable candidate.
With a fifth place and 12.6% of the delegates, the Minnesota senator finishes with just enough votes to pretend that her campaign remains viable, even if her chances of standing out are lower than ever. Unless there is a surprise in New Hampshire, she will have a hard time climbing the hill.
Andrew Yang, Tom Steyer and the others
Iowa, everyone’s coming down. Almost… 1.1% for entrepreneur Andrew Yang, 0.3% for financier and philanthropist Tom Steyer… Everyone now knows that his campaign is no longer viable. Lack of means, they will quickly throw in the towel.
Absent from these caucuses – he will not enter the fray until March 3 for “Super Tuesday” -, the billionaire had justified his entry into the campaign by the fact that none of the candidates was able to beat Donald Trump in his eyes . And he sees himself confirmed in the idea that Biden is a fragile candidate. The solution ? Him, of course! The former mayor of New York has already spent more than $ 200 million on this campaign – including $ 10 million for a 60-second spot during the Super Bowl finale – and has no plans to stop there: announced Tuesday that it would double its advertising spending.
However, does it become credible? Polls already point it to more than 8% on average at the national level, a figure that should still climb. But many remain skeptical of the chances of one of the world’s biggest fortunes – estimated at $ 61 billion by “Forbe” magazine – among Democrats, a man who voted for George Bush in 2004 and has continued to move from one party to another according to his electoral ambitions. He, on the contrary, is betting that voters will lose interest in this past. His strategy is the same as Biden’s: he is the mature, experienced candidate who “will do the job” of beating Trump … with a (big) handful of dollars.
He was a candidate in the caucus opposite, that of the Republicans, and won with a dictator score: 97%, Bill Weld and Joe Walsh (who’s that?) Sharing the few remaining crumbs. But it was planned. What was less so was the participation among Democrats, less important than they hoped: it is at its level in 2016 but less than a quarter lower than in 2008. So there is there was no rush to vote on the left.
The second satisfaction, for Trump, is the incredible confusion in the publication of the results of the Democrats. Not very serious, for a party which presents itself as an “adult” alternative to the grand bazaar of the White House.