November 15, 2019

Pete Buttigieg Rising

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A Monmouth University Poll of Iowa’s Democratic caucuses released on Tuesday showed Pete Buttigieg in the lead. “Four candidates are currently vying for the top spot in Iowa’s caucuses – Buttigieg (22%), Biden (19%), Warren (18%), and Sanders (13%).” Monmouth

Last Friday, Buttigieg unveiled an economic plan pledging to lower the cost of housing, childcare, college, and healthcare and also to raise incomes. Pete Buttigieg 2020

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From the Left

The left thinks Buttigieg has a long road ahead to gain momentum outside Iowa, but supports his education proposal.

“As voters have developed Goldilocks syndrome about the leading Democratic candidates — too old, too liberal, too … female? — Buttigieg has benefitted from the strong vanilla flavor of his political porridge. His stump speech is about ‘American values, correctly understood,’ addresses ‘the crisis of belonging,’ scolds the ‘cheap nationalism of hugging the flag’ and encourages ‘Republicans of conscience’ to come on into the Democratic Party. Like Biden, Buttigieg is selling voters on a nostalgic return to some age of innocence and patriotism that existed before Trump.”
Clare Malone, FiveThirtyEight

Buttigieg “has criticized Warren for being evasive about how she would pay for her Medicare for All plan, which credible sources estimate would cost between $31tn and $34tn over a decade. Buttigieg’s proposed Medicare-for-all-who-want-it alternative would also represent an expensive advance on the status quo. But by allowing Americans who have private insurance to keep it if they wish – unlike Warren and Sanders, who would eliminate it – Buttigieg can advertise himself as both a progressive and a pragmatist…

“Buttigieg is the most articulate speaker and debater in the presidential race… [he] evokes many of the same themes that launched Obama to the White House in the last decade… In less than a hundred days, we’ll find out if Iowa’s Democratic voters consider his version of ‘hope and change’ to be the best approach to take on Trump.”
Geoffrey Kabaservice, The Guardian

“What’s clear is that Buttigieg is doing well in Iowa mostly because Iowa voters are exactly the kind of people who love Pete Buttigieg: aging, mostly white voters with midwestern sensibilities. The South Bend Mayor is about twice as popular with voters over 65 as he is with voters under 30, according to a recent New York Times/Siena poll, and overwhelmingly favored by white voters over voters of color. Many midwestern moderates are also drawn to his brand of hopeful liberalism… But those strengths don’t necessarily translate outside Iowa… It’s not that black voters in South Carolina necessarily dislikePete Buttigieg—they just don’t likehim. The most typical reaction from the black voters I spoke with during Buttigieg’s most recent swing through South Carolina was resounding indifference: not a sneer, but a shrug.”
Charlotte Alter, Time

“Black voters generally favor candidates with a demonstrated history of loyalty to the community. Buttigieg is a young man, relatively unknown, and with a curious history on race relations in South Bend, Ind. He will have to get over those hurdles. Pretending those hurdles don’t exist, and instead assigning the blame to black homophobia, hurts Buttigieg’s campaign more than helps it.”
Charles M. Blow, New York Times

“African Americans have evolved on LGBTQ equality just like everyone else. According to the Pew Research Center, only 29 percent of blacks supported same-sex marriage in 2009. Ten years later, a majority (51 percent) now does. Sure, that is lower than other ethnic groups, but not significantly so… Black voters don’t own homophobia and they are not monolithic. Black voters have their specific concerns and they have hopes, dreams and aspirations that are as American as they come. If candidates want their votes, they have to work for them continually and ask for them with sincerity. And if a candidate fails to win over African Americans, the fault is not those voters. It’s the messenger and their message. Or they simply thought someone else stood a better chance of winning.”
Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post

Regarding Buttigieg’s education proposal, “it stops short of the free-college-for-all plans that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have offered, which would wastefully hand tuition subsidies to wealthy families who don’t need the help. The result is that Mr. Buttigieg can devote some of the money he would raise from the 1 percent to other worthy causes, whereas Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren need new and different revenue-raisers — some of them implausible or economically risky — to fund their more expansive programs. It is more progressive to target aid to those who require it, conserving federal resources to do the maximum good… [Buttigieg has] resisted the faux-progressive lure of big, universal programs and designed one that would provide help to those who need it.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right remains skeptical that Buttigieg will win the nomination, and criticizes his economic plan.

From the Right

The right remains skeptical that Buttigieg will win the nomination, and criticizes his economic plan.

“Buttigieg’s lead has been the headline of the day for mainstream media outlets, but the reason he has a lead is because Buttigieg flooded Iowa with paid TV advertisements… Buttigieg’s campaign spent $870,000 between November 5 to 11 on TV ads in Iowa alone… In the third quarter of fundraising, Buttigieg raised $19.1 million. Between November 5 to 11, Buttigieg’s campaign spent approximately 5 percent of that money in just one week–high spending for just one state… Nationally, Buttigieg is far from the top three and not ‘top tier.’ With intense money poured into television ads and staff in Iowa, Buttigieg may be at the top in one state, but this poll is not indicative of his campaign on the national level.”
Chrissy Clark, The Federalist

“The Buttigieg campaign is heavily invested in Iowa and has little in the way of infrastructure or support elsewhere… To have a sustainable campaign, Buttigieg must look beyond Iowa and broaden his appeal while fending off attacks from his rivals. If Mayor Pete can hold on for three months to pull off an upset victory in Iowa, then he may be able to parley his new frontrunner status into more victories.”
David Thornton, The Resurgent

“A big question hanging over Buttigieg’s head is whether he can make sufficient inroads with African-American primary votersto capture the nomination… Buttigieg’s weakness in South Carolina is partly a function of the fact that Joe Biden, former vice president to America’s first black president, retains a commanding lead among black voters. But Buttigieg’s weakness is also partly a function of his sexual orientation…

“Gallup has long tested voters’ bias against political candidates based on various factors… this year, 17 percent of Democrats said they would not vote for a gay or lesbian candidate. A spokeswoman for Gallup tells National Review that while 9 percent of white Democrats said they would not vote for a gay or lesbian candidate, 22 percent of non-white Democrats said they would not vote for a gay or lesbian candidate. And recall that this is a question about voting in a general election for a ‘generally well-qualified’ nominee of one’s own party. The percentage of Democrats who would be reluctant to vote for a candidate in the Democratic primary due to his sexual orientation is surely higher than that.”
John McCormack, National Review

“For Democrats to avoid a contested convention… they need for the field to narrow to essentially two main candidates relatively early on. This seemed to be a possibility when it was looking like Warren and Joe Biden were co-front-runners…

“A Buttigieg victory in Iowa would be particularly disruptive. A big reason is that for months, polls have consistently shown him in the low single digits among black voters, who play a critical role in later states. While it might be conceivable for a candidate to lose black voters and still win, no Democrat will be able to do as poorly as Buttigieg has been performing and have a path to the nomination. But if he wins Iowa, he'll have ample reason to justify staying in the race for a long time (and the cash to do it), which would allow him to vacuum up delegates in states and congressional districts with whiter electorates.”
Philip Klein, Washington Examiner

“Buttigieg is getting a hard look from anxious Democrats. If Joe Biden can’t perform better and Elizabeth Warren seems unelectable, then who’s on deck? Maybe it’s Pete, the mild Midwestern mayor… As a result, he’ll be getting more scrutiny for his ideas, and on Friday he released what he called ‘An Economic Agenda for American Families.’ For a candidate who wants to occupy the moderate lane, Mr. Buttigieg’s policy details veer notably left

“This isn’t an economic agenda, and there isn’t a pro-growth item anywhere. It’s a social-welfare spending and union wish list. Mr. Buttigieg tosses off these grand plans in a seven-page campaign paper, which mentions not once how he intends to pay for them. Don’t forget the billions more he has allocated to green energy, as well as his $1.5 trillion health-care public option, ‘Medicare for All Who Want It.’ So far Mayor Pete’s agenda totals $5.7 trillion, as his campaign told the Indianapolis Star last week. Mr. Buttigieg plans to pay for it, the Star reports, ‘largely through a capital gains tax on the top 1% of all earners and through eliminating President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.’ Details to come later, apparently.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

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