Why isn’t Pete Buttigieg the front-runner among Democrats?

Readers: Please take a look at this video of Pete Buttigieg speaking in April 2017 and tell me why this guy isn’t the front runner among Democrats.

Like Barack Obama (whose victory I predicted in December 2007), he makes the challenges that face Americans seem trivial and inexpensive to address.

He’s obviously intelligent. He didn’t sue his spouse and split up his children’s family the way that former divorce plaintiff Elizabeth Warren did. He didn’t have sex with a married 30-years-older politician in order to get ahead (Kamala Harris). Since he currently claims to identify as a gay man, he isn’t likely to be accused of touching women (Joe Biden).

He doesn’t express as much contempt for Republican voters as the rest of the hopefuls, does he? (Atlantic says that he attacks Christians, but actual Christian believers are now rare in the U.S.)

He does claim credit for the success of South Bend, something much more likely attributable to (a) the trend toward urbanization, (b) population growth in the U.S. (all of the immigrants and their kids don’t tend to settle in rural areas), and (c) South Bend being home to a university. But success has many fathers!

Simply based on the above-cited video, I would be happy to vote for this guy from a purely emotional point of view. For how many other Democratic candidates can one say that?

[Separately, what is the risk that people will start referring to this candidate as “Pete Butthead”?]

20 thoughts on “Why isn’t Pete Buttigieg the front-runner among Democrats?

  1. My recollection Phil is you also predicted Hillary was going to win so your predictive abilities seem about the same as a coin flip. Probably about the same, therefore, as the rest of us.

    • My failure on the Hillary prediction was the assumption that the person who could get more votes would win the election! Hillary’s promise of bigger government and a more thoroughly planned economy did win a popular majority.

    • Reply to philg:

      Hillary only won a plurality; she got 48.2% of the popular vote.

      A popular majority wanted someone else, and we got someone else.

    • Steve: Thanks for the correction. I hear “Hillary won the popular vote” so often that I forgot about the third party candidates (even though I myself am a Libertarian voter in general elections, just to provide a bit of encouragement (general election vote in Massachusetts is not relevant)). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_United_States_presidential_election makes it almost impossible to find the vote counts for parties other than Dem/Repub!

    • Hillary only won a plurality; she got 48.2% of the popular vote.

      A popular majority wanted someone else, and we got someone else.

      That a bizarre way to look at things. She received the greatest number of votes. An even larger portion wanted someone other than Trump.

  2. I did predict Donald Trump would be president, and our host said he would buy me lunch but has failed to do so. New Prediction Trump/Pence will beat Biden/Harris!

    • Come to Boston and I will buy! Or any day at Oshkosh this year! If Biden/Harris are the Democrat nominees then I will ALSO buy you lunch at Oshkosh 2020!

    • Thanks. I hadn’t heard of him. He is quoted as saying “No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love”. Where are the grammar police to demand this be “WHOM they love”?

      Grammar aside, does this mean he wants to shut down affirmative action? Stop universities from discriminating against Asian-American applicants?

  3. A gay man would be the best ruler in all history, since there’s every evidence he would be more interested in service than gaining power. There is the name issue. Did his interest in gayness come about because of his name?

    • Is this comment an experiment in how much ignorance you can pack in to two sentences?

  4. Has issues running his small town. McKinsey brat. Maybe voters aren’t as dumb as everyone thinks. I kid. The DNC hasn’t annointed him yet, but once they do, he’ll be the next President!

  5. Out here in Indiana, every longtime city except Indianapolis is actually shrinking in population. (We have a few new cities, towns that won the city designation, that are growing, but they’re all adjacent to Indianapolis.)

    I’m born and raised in South Bend. Mayor Pete is the biggest breath of fresh air my hometown has had in my 50+-year lifetime. He’s done some good; some of his initiatives haven’t succeeded. I suppose that makes him somewhat better than average. What makes him stand out is his transparency and the appearance, at least, that his heart is true.

    He probably doesn’t stand a chance, but I’m rooting for him nonetheless.

  6. Phil,

    The problem is there are still quite a few religious folks, especially minorities. In particular, hostility to the sins of sodom remains strong among African-American voters. If you don’t have an explanation for how a Democrat can win with anemic black support, I don’t think you can support a prediction for Mayor Pete to become President.

    • I wouldn’t expect a Democrat to win against Trump, necessarily (although I do think a Democrat will at least get more popular votes once again; Americans want a planned economy and the Democrats are the party with that promise). My post is wondering why anyone thinks there is a better candidate among Democrats than Pete B. Did the recent TV shows with Democrats talking (“debates”?) bring forward anyone with more appeal to an average voter?

    • The only candidate who actually has more appeal to the average voter is perhaps Biden. Not because of anything he said during the TV show with Democrats talking(his talking could be summed up as “I was Obama’s VP and nothing happened before that.”) but because the “return to normalcy” that he embodies sounds GREAT to a lot of voters.

  7. I haven’t seen a Trump/Pence 2020 sign. Is Trump auditioning other GOP ass-kissers? Pence is fervent but not sincere. Trump’s own choice is obvious: Ivanka.

  8. South Bend is one city/town in a much larger conglomeration of cities and towns in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan called Michiana by residents. South Bend has always been the biggest of the cities and had the most factories until the factories went away.

    I grew up in South Bend and Mishawaka, an adjacent city in Michiana. I still go back to visit family. South Bend is cleaner and prettier. There have been some improvements (not all achieved kindly), but overall, I keep asking where the change is? What is really better?

    If you compare quality of life issues, South Bend comes in at the bottom of Michiana and far below the state average. Housing is underpriced, which is great if you want to buy, but a problem because very few do. If your job is not in tech or medicine, you are likely to make as much as 10% less than the same type of job elsewhere in the state.

    When I was growing up, all Michiana public schools were about equal. People who went private did so primarily for religious reasons. Now almost every one of South Bend’s schools is listed as failing. My cousin chooses to drive his children almost 40 minutes one way to a charter school rather than send them to the public school that is less than two blocks from his home because the education there is so poor. That would’ve been unthinkable a few decades ago. More importantly it would have been completely unnecessary.

    South Bend has become the kind of place you leave, even if it’s to a neighboring town because those towns are better run.

    People have also never really understood that while South Bend loves Notre Dame, and Notre Dame does employ a good number of people, Notre Dame has _always_ desired to be separate in identity from the city. They have their own ZIP code. If you address a letter to someone there, it goes to Notre Dame, Indiana. They’ve never been granted full town status; they would like it. During my childhood, it was actually odd to meet a Notre Dame or St Mary’s student in town. Or at all, quite honestly, unless you worked there. The university was that insulated and provided for the students’ needs that thoroughly. So having a university has probably saved South Bend, but it has never leveraged the kind of partnership and mutually beneficial relationship the city needs. It appears that Mayor Pete has been able to strengthen that relationship, so there’s one positive.

    Seems earnest. Seems like his heart is in the right place. Haven’t agreed with all his methods. Most in South Bend I know feel they’re a bit better off. Many who want to stay in Michiana still talk about moving a town or two over. Based on what I see, I wouldn’t move back. So while the hometown team girl in me would like to see him do well, the realist says, “If this is the best he can do with a shrinking city, what does he offer an entire country other than lovely words in a sonorous voice?”

  9. From https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2007/12/12/election-2008-prediction-obama-wins-by-5-percent-we-will-all-be-dep/ :

    > When the hated King Bush II has been back to Texas for a year and the beloved Obama has been in office for a year, people will look around for a quick status check. They will still be stuck in horrific traffic. They will still be paying insane prices for crummy housing in bleak, lonely communities. Their children will be getting a terrible education at the local public school, perhaps developing to about 15 percent of their potential. If in a hip urban area, criminals will still be smashing their car windows and taking their GPS. They will realize that virtually none of the things that are unpleasant about their life have anything to do with the federal government…

    philg – You gave people too much credit. It’s 10+ years later, each of these still holds true (save for the GPSs in cars), and folks still turn to the federal government to solve their personal problems.

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