Wait, No Major Candidate Is in Iowa Today?

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg holds a town hall event in Creston, Iowa, November 25, 2019. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

This observation from McClatchy political correspondent David Catanese is downright surreal:

With Sanders, Warren, and Klobuchar stuck in the Senate listening to the impeachment arguments, you would figure Biden and Buttigieg would want to spend as much time in Iowa to maximize their advantage. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, or maybe Biden and Buttigieg want to get one more series of events in the Granite State, before effectively pitching a tent in Iowa and staying there until the caucuses February 3.

Or perhaps the campaigns of those two non-Senator candidates have concluded that the range of outcomes in Iowa is now pretty limited. The four top candidates are likely to finish within ten points or less from each other. The top three finishers will all get delegates, and the fourth one probably will, too. Biden is probably going to finish with somewhere between 14 and 24 percent, and Buttigieg is probably going to finish with somewhere between 15 and 23 percent. Either man could win or finish fourth, but neither one will win by a lot or lose by a lot. A lot of how their finish is perceived will be determined by how the other candidates finish.

But in New Hampshire . . . the range of potential outcomes appears wider. The latest WBUR survey had Sanders ahead by twelve points! The Monmouth poll completed January 7 had Buttigieg leading with 20 percent, but the Boston Herald poll a week later had him with just 7 percent. In the aggregate of all recent polling, Biden and Buttigieg are right around that 15 percent threshold for delegates in recent polling. In the most recent Boston Globe/Suffolk survey, almost 24 percent said they were undecided, only Sanders was above the 15 percent threshold and Biden was just below it at 14.8 percent.

In other words, if you’re the Biden and Buttigieg campaigns, maybe you feel pretty good about Iowa right now; you’re more worried about New Hampshire and more inclined to spend time in that state.

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