Thanks to a top-notch ground game, Mayor Pete Buttigieg secured the most delegates at the 2020 Iowa caucus.
And then they got long again, falling behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren and upstart Michael Bloomberg. That is all starting to change now.
While the Democratic Iowa caucus was an utter goat rodeo, Buttigieg’s organization acumen outshine all of his opposition. He captured the most delegates despite losing the popular vote to Sen. Bernie Sanders. However, his statewide appeal was broad. In a primary where the No. 1 qualification for winning the nomination is becoming, “Well, can you beat Donald Trump?” Buttigieg is answering that question with an emphatic “yes.”
Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential election odds
Over the past 24 hours, Buttigieg has seen his election odds go from around +2500 (behind Warren) to anywhere from +900 to +1400.
While that doesn’t leapfrog him past Sanders, it does move him back on par with Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden.
Once the Iowa results are finalized, expect to see further incremental improvement in Buttigieg’s election odds.
What’s next for Mayor Pete and the other contenders?
In recent primary history, you need to either win Iowa or New Hampshire (Tuesday, Feb. 11) to win the party nomination.
Buttigieg has seemingly locked up one of those two. Can he ride the momentum of Iowa and claim another victory and effectively lock it all up?
First, as 538 pointed out: the mess that was Iowa might’ve screwed the whole nomination process up. In the midst of Iowa’s delayed caucus results coming in — the increasingly popular President Donald Trump gave his State of the Union address.
Buttigieg won’t even get a 24-hour news cycle to produce a post-caucus bump. He needs it too. The Mayor is polling fourth in New Hampshire. Leading that state is Bernie Sanders. If Sanders captures New Hampshire, you can bank on the Democratic nomination coming down to him or Buttigieg.
Or can you?
Biden, who finished a concerning fourth in Iowa, still leads national polls. That could quickly change if party officials and the public bail on him after two poor showings. Or he could pull out wins in South Carolina and Nevada and make the nomination a three-person race. Biden is still the establishment’s safest choice. Donors and party officials will cling to him until the bitter end.
And then there’s Michael Bloomberg.
The ex-New York City Mayor has already spent more than $300M on campaign advertising. He’s doubling-down after the Iowa debacle. Bloomberg isn’t afraid to attack Trump in very Trump-ian ways. He’s got a smart campaign strategy, basically focusing on the six states that will swing the election.
By not participating in Iowa, Bloomberg risks to “Giuliani” himself. Rudy Giuliani didn’t compete in Iowa or New Hampshire, instead of focusing on what he felt were more important states like Florida. That didn’t go so well for him. By the time Florida rolled around, he was an after-thought. John McCain won the nomination.
Could a fellow New Yorker make the same miscalculation? Yes and no. Bloomberg ignoring early states could prove costly. But unlike Rudy, Bloomberg has personal wealth to flood heavier delegate states with non-stop advertising.
And as for President Trump?
The most unconventional president of all-time continues to defy the odds.
He’s currently priced around -150 to be re-elected. That’s an implied probability of 60%. If anything, that seems on the low side. While a lot can still happen between now and November, with impeachment likely to be shot down on Wednesday and the economy humming, Trump is set up to cruise toward re-election.
Is there value on the Democratic side?
To paraphrase Al Michaels’ if you believe in miracles, Buttigieg at +1400 is fantastic value for someone who may be a coin-flip now to win the Democratic nomination. While on the one hand, it would be hard to fathom someone coming from obscurity like Buttigieg to win a nomination and election, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton just said, “hold my beer.”
Sanders appears well-positioned to win New Hampshire. However, his ground game in Iowa showed a lot to be desired. Winning elections is increasingly data-driven and geo-focused. Does he have the ground game to topple Trump?
Bloomberg has the right idea of where to campaign. But as mentioned, he may be Giuliani’ing himself.
This appears to be Trump’s election to lose until further notice.