Pete Buttigieg: fresh, upbeat voice, or policy-lite novice?

Pete Buttigieg threw everything into winning the Iowa Democratic caucuses and – with 71% of the vote in following Monday’s results debacle – his gamble may well have paid off.

If so, the former mayor of tiny South Bend, Indiana, may look back on this moment as the peak of his political career, or the start of a long, hard slog that could take him all the way to the White House.

Supporters of Buttigieg, a military veteran and intellectual whose appeal recalls that of Barack Obama, see him as a fresh, upbeat voice of moderation who could potentially unite the party and unseat Donald Trump.

Critics say he is an inexperienced, policy-lite novice who worked as a management consultant for McKinsey, holds fundraisers in the “wine caves” of the super-rich, and has no record of the support among non-whites he would need to win the Democratic nomination and the November election.

The great unknown is whether the US would vote for a gay president. Those dismissing such worries point to Obama twice proving the US could elect a black man, and Hillary Clinton’s netting of 3m more votes than Trump in 2016, which showed a woman could win the popular vote. Further back, John F Kennedy overcame suggestions a Catholic could never win the White House.

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