Many think of the Democratic Primary as a long and tried process, as solid an establishment as the vote itself. But just as the expansion of the vote was a historic process, so too did the primary develop as its own entity–meaning there are relatively few cases to look at as serious examples. A national Democratic primary that actually decided the presidential nominee has only been in place since 1972, after the notoriously disastrous 1968 Democratic Convention. And even with that, only eight have been real contests–the five between 1972 and 1992, 2004, 2008, and 2016.
Within those primaries, however, we do see a common set of threads. Looking at these commonalities should help us determine who deserves our support.
First, the nominees who went on to win, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, were new generation Washington outsiders with a bold and fresh vision for American politics. All the nominees who went on to lose, including former Vice President Walter Mondale, longest serving Governor of Massachusetts Michael Dukakis, and Vice President Al Gore, were all older politicians and Washington insiders. A new vision defined primarily by age, rather than ideology, unites these key presidents.
Second, the candidates who went on to win started off relatively unknown. When the Georgia peanut farmer announced, “a Gallup poll that asked voters for their impressions of 31 possible candidates didn’t even have Carter on the list.” The relatively unknown governor of Arkansas once covered the New York Magazine with an article titled, “Who Is This Guy?” before winning the primary. The “skinny kid with a funny name” went on to become the first African-American president. Few thought when they announced that any of the three had any chance at winning.
Third, the winners all focused on winning the early states. Carter was the first primary candidate ever to declare in all available primaries, a thought that now seems so obvious but then seemed so revolutionary. His campaign wrote the playbook of relational politics in Iowa and other key primary states, from which he developed the momentum to win the nomination against far more famous opponents — both to his left and to his right. Some have claimed that black voters, after seeing Obama “win lily-white Iowa,” thought “he could win the White House.” Clinton, however, did not take Iowa or New Hampshire — his campaigned was won by his organization in Super Tuesday states.
The true key, however, that all of these shared facts feed into, is that the nominees who go on to win the presidency all have grassroots support beyond what their campaigns alone could provide. Carter would have gone nowhere had the people of Ohio not already had a substantial volunteer infrastructure ready to knock on doors and get out to vote for him. Clinton would have lost if southern Democrats had not shown up and dragged their family to a historically major turnout that decided the election. Obama would have faded into the historical footnote had the Super Tuesday states not already been organized and ready to go for him. Boots on the ground are what give you the edge to win.
The boot-edge-edge, if you will.
And that’s why Pete Buttigieg will be the president in 2020.
Only one candidate in the 2020 race fits what we have just described as the mold to win over the majority of American voters. There is just one young Washington outsider who was relatively unknown before the race with the campaign capacity to win in the early states. Buttigieg leads the campaign in terms of staffers and offices in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Poll after poll shows Buttigieg as consistently maintaining the most favorable numbers as his name recognition grows across groups. But, far more importantly than any polls, positions, or campaign strength, Buttigieg is unique in the grassroots support he has garnered across the Super Tuesday states.
A simple search on Facebook reveals the presence of North Carolina for Warren and NC for Bernie pages. But both are dwarfed by the North Carolina for Pete groups and pages spread across the state. Twitter, too, boasts several North Carolina accounts for Bernie, Warren, and even a handful for Biden. But the Pete Twitterverse is strong, with many local groups from North Carolina represented. Most importantly, while Warren and Bernie have sign-up sheets to try and start grassroots organizations, North Carolina for Pete is in its second round of leadership recruitment, organizing new people to step up to lead their regional areas in support of Pete Buttigieg.
The volunteers in North Carolina are not just any group, however: for as much as a presidential campaign can be, we are organized. NC for Pete hosts dozens of in-person Pete-Ups a month, including Debate Watch Parties, phone banks, text banks, community outreach events, volunteering opportunities, and House Parties to organize relationally around our candidate — not to mention regular trainings and weekly leadership calls. People here are not just enthusiastic — they are taking the action we need to win. Over a thousand people have signed up to volunteer, from Murphy to Manteo, covering the entire state. Students at Catawba College, Appalachian State University, UNC School of the Arts, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Asheville, Duke University, Wake Forest University, and NC State are starting college chapters for Pete. Nine local regional groups support their efforts and the growth of volunteer teams and that are now stepping up to take our work to the next level. New groups are in development to reach new audiences across the state. Unlike any other presidential campaign, we are already prepared to do the work of electing a president in North Carolina.
The support is not limited to North Carolina. Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee also boast large and fruitful groups, organizing (and in some ways competing for attention from the national campaign). None of these are political action committees nor do they get money from any secretive big donors–all of our funding comes out of our own pockets. Neither were these organizations started by the Pete for America campaign. Instead, these are groups of local volunteers, organized and united together by a belief in the young political outsider who can change this country in the same manner as Carter, Clinton, and Obama.
Unlike the candidates ahead of Pete in national polls, the grassroots organizing power of the Democratic Party is finding its inspiration in Pete Buttigieg. Our party, when successful, has not been for over fifty years an establishment group with an eye toward our favorite son. Nor has it, when successful, been a group that entirely throws out our system in favor for some new, untested program. Instead, we have consistently united behind a new vision for the future that draws out that which is best within all of us to proclaim a new future for our country.
The question that is often asked of Pete is simple: Can he win?
The question, when faced with the simple facts of our history as the Democratic Party, is this: Is there anyone besides Pete Buttigieg who can?
To sign up for the NC for Pete newsletter or get connected with your local Pete group, please visit ncforpete.com.
[read in full at Medium.com]