After Iowa, Pete Buttigieg should stop trying to run from his elitism

After Iowa, Pete Buttigieg should stop trying to run from his elitism


Pete Buttigieg has an elitism problem.

The more he tries to prove that he is not an elitist, the more obvious it is to everyone that he is. The former South Bend mayor has been unconvincingly distancing himself from his plainly exceptional status even as it has enabled his rise to legitimate contender for the Democratic nomination for president.

He doesn’t have to do that. The results of the Iowa caucuses suggest that Buttigieg is gaining support because of his elitism and not in spite of it. Buttigieg appears to have won Iowa by generating more enthusiasm than expected across all demographics. He dominated among people who consider themselves “somewhat liberal” and tied Joe Biden in the race for moderates, according to entrance polls.

Pete Buttigieg, at a watch party for the South Bend, Ind. mayor and presidential candidate, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.

Buttigieg won rural farmers, he won Christians and he won people who like to sit in coffee shops and chat about health care policy. It is true that Iowa is an imperfect sample of American voters, but the people who caucused for Buttigieg were not fooled by who he is. Despite Buttigieg’s emphasis on his South Bend roots, Iowans did not necessarily see him as one of them. They simply saw him as a viable contender for president.


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