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Mayor Pete Buttigieg Steals Second from Elizabeth Warren

CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall / The Climate Crisis / Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, has moved from fourth place into second place among Democrats vying for their party’s nomination to the White House in 2020 [1], replacing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the top tier of candidates, according to a Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday.

Joe Biden, the former vice president under Barack Obama, is the steady leader in the race at 24 percent in this same poll.

Buttigieg is at second with 16 percent.

That’s a jump of six points since the last Quinnipiac poll.

Warren has seen her lead cut in half from 28 percent to 14 percent.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), meanwhile, is in fourth place with 13 percent.

Check out this tweet about it.

The Warren slide is due in large part to public disapproval of her plan to completely replace private medical insurance with a socialized, government-run plan.

Related: Warren’s Wily Ways: Most Americans See Right Through the Stories [4]

Biden and Buttigieg back the relatively more moderate plan of Medicare for All.

But even that plan, which expands the public option but allows some forms of private medical insurance, is unpopular with the public by a 52 percent margin.

That unpopularity is up seven points from March, when only 45 percent of those surveyed thought it was a bad idea.

Both numbers are also from a Quinnipiac poll.

There is more good news for Buttigieg.

The specter of a Biden-Buttigieg ticket could give the GOP some worries while putting the Democrats in a bigger bind.

While the hard-Left would be livid that the ticket would be comprised only of white men, some would be placated because Buttigieg is gay.

But that choice could pit feminists and the diversity lobby against the wide influence that a gay vice-presidential nominee would have in the Democratic Party.

Republicans could see a phenomenon much like the advantage that then-candidate Barack Obama had in 2008 because of his race. Buttigieg would be seen by some as a pioneer in gay rights and his election as vice president, and possible eventual ascension to the presidency, as a victory for diversity.

But there could be a cultural backlash in the South and in the heartland, as both Biden and Buttigieg, while seen as moderates in a modern Dem context, are solidly far-Left on every major issue before the country.

Buttigieg’s personal factors could only strengthen that impression.

Related: Bernie Blasts Michael Bloomberg and Highlights Dem Vulnerability [8]

Democrats know they must reach moderate and swing voters to win the 2020 presidential election.

Hence, Warren’s recent problems. She is widely seen as far too leftwing for the nation at large.

Buttigieg, though almost as leftist as Warren on many issues, has a moderate clean-cut image and demeanor that belies his ideology.

His military service and Rhodes Scholar education will work for him as well with swing voters, highlighting a record of honorable adherence to duty and personal achievement.

This could play well with moderates in a general election.

The race is still in its early stages at this point.

But February, Iowa, and New Hampshire are all within visual distance now.

As time moves on and poll numbers begin to solidify, Warren may have further room for serious discomfort.