How Pete Buttigieg could make things really hard for Elizabeth Warren

Perhaps because there was such a scarcity of polling in the first caucus state over the summer, it’s been underappreciated how tight Iowa is. While national polling in recent weeks has shown a two-person race between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, Iowa has essentially become a four-way race between those two as well as Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. In the past week, it’s been Buttigieg who, profiting from an aggressive debate performance, has risen to the thick of it. Given the absurd amount of cash he has, Buttigieg could easily win the caucuses. But after that? He still has zero traction among black voters, who will play a critical role in South Carolina and the following week’s Super Tuesday. For a candidate who’s positioned himself in the past month as a centrist “Biden understudy,” Buttigieg’s role in the campaign might, ironically, be to save Biden: He could block Elizabeth Warren from winning Iowa, depriving her of the momentum she would need to eat into Biden’s lead in South Carolina.

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