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Klobuchar vies with surging Buttigieg for Iowa moderates

Patrick Condon, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

There's a Midwestern Democrat running for president who's surging in Iowa right now with a plain-spoken appeal and a moderate message of inclusion.

Unfortunately for Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar, that candidate is Indiana's Pete Buttigieg.

The mayor of South Bend shot to the top of a Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll released over the weekend, rising 16 percentage points among Iowa's likely Democratic caucusgoers.

Busting out of the pack with 25% support, Buttigieg was trailed by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, all in a three-way tie for second at about 15% support. Klobuchar was in fifth place at 6%, which she hailed as a doubling of her support since the last Register poll in September.

That buttressed other recent polls showing Buttigieg at or near the top in Iowa. His rise in the state with the nation-leading presidential caucus has the youthful Washington outsider suddenly in contention for front-runner status in a highly unsettled Democratic race.

"We have four campaigns now that are bunched up together at the top, without a clear leader," said Jeff Link, a Des Moines-based Democratic strategist, referring to Warren, Biden, Sanders and Buttigieg. "And you have Senator Klobuchar, who's trying to close in on that lead group."

 

The Minnesota senator finished fifth in Quinnipiac and Monmouth polls of Iowa released this month at 5% in each. Buttigieg's gains in both polls were more substantial.

A separate survey released Friday by Public Policy Polling had Klobuchar at 9% in Iowa, her best showing in a neighboring state critical to her campaign, and which she has visited 23 times as a presidential candidate.

Late entrances by two big names -- former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick -- suggest continued dissatisfaction or uncertainty over who's the best Democrat to unseat President Donald Trump.

"Polls consistently show more than half the electorate has not firmly made up its mind yet," said Andrew Smith, a political scientist and pollster at the University of New Hampshire.

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