Pete Buttigieg is the underdog to watch

by Jennifer Rubin – Oct 2, 2019 (

What should happen, say, if Buttigieg comes in third in Iowa, ahead of one of the current three front-runners? That’s a real possibility, and one reason that a betting person wanting to put money on an underdog might pick Buttigieg.

Buttigieg has a number of factors in his favor.

First, he is a proven fundraiser (taking in more than $19 million in the third quarter).

Second, he attracted big crowds and extremely positive coverage on his Iowa road trip.

Third, he is doing what every other non-Biden candidate has failed to do: He is standing firm in the center left. He’s not promising single-payer health care nor confiscatory gun policies.

Fourth, he is smart and succinct enough in a debate to make trouble for the far-left candidates, thereby boosting his profile as one of the most adept combatants from the center-left.

Fifth, his military service helps his electability argument. It not only gives him some national security credibility but also helps him to take President Trump down more than a few pegs; he can contrast his own service with Trump’s fortuitous “bone spurs” that got him out of serving in Vietnam.

Finally, he is the most genuinely middle-class candidate among the top contenders. No millions from book sales, speeches, consulting gigs or past Senate fund-raising (to slide over into the presidential campaign fund).

Buttigieg remains far behind the front-runners. That said, he is closing the gap between himself and Sanders (who is going in the opposite direction in the polls). He is not currently perceived as a threat to other candidates so does not take much, if any, incoming fire from opponents. In sum, as improbable as it might seem, next to Warren (who’s running a near-perfect campaign) Buttigieg might have the most effective campaign operation and message. It has been good enough to lift the mayor of South Bend into the top four candidates in the race.

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